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More Protected Bike Lanes Called for at ‘Bike to Work’ Day Rally

2:17 PM PDT on May 10, 2019

San Francisco is poised to roughly double its miles of protected bike lanes in the next two years, if the city follows through on a directive made Thursday morning by Mayor London Breed at this year's 'Bike to Work Day rally on the steps of City Hall.

From the Mayor's office:

San Francisco will double its pace on the creation of new bike lanes to create 20 miles of new, protected bike lanes over the next two years to help create a connected bike lane network in the City. Additionally, [Mayor Breed] has asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to increase citations related to blocked bike lanes by 10 percent over the next six months, beginning immediately.

Supervisors at the event also promised to do their parts to make sure those twenty more miles of protected bike lane get built. "Biking has been a wonderful, recreational activity," said District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar. "But it could be so much more... with more protected bike lanes."

Firefighter Michael Crehan chats with SFBC chief Brian Wiedenmeier at the 'Bike to Work Day' rally
Firefighter and bike advocate Michael Crehan chats with SFBC chief Brian Wiedenmeier at the 'Bike to Work Day' rally
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D5 Supervisor Vallie Brown had a personal experience that morning around the need for protected bike lanes. "A Lyft driver parked in the bike lane on Page" as she was riding with one of many Bike to Work Day 'commuter convoys,' she said. She said she yelled at the Lyft driver to get out of the lane. "We need to ticket people, it's unacceptable," she said, but added that protected bike lanes are the only real solution. "I'll take as many as we can get!"

Advocate Matt Brezina promised to set up a web page to hold the Supervisors to their words. "All of them said they wanted protected bike lanes," said Brezina. "We'll track what gets built."

District 6 Supervisor
District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney and People Protected Bike Lane advocate Matt Brezina at today's 'Bike to Work Day' rally
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Speaking of "tracking what gets built," Streetsblog also rode with one of the organized rides this morning. About a dozen cyclists from North Beach met up at 7:30 in District 3 (Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the district, was out of town today, but he sent deputies to participate). The group met at Washington Square Park.

Geoffrey Fletcher is a long-time North Beach resident. He bikes regularly with an electric-assist bike to San Francisco State on 19th Avenue. He thinks cycling in North Beach "...is great, but Columbus Avenue is going down hill because of all the traffic." He'd like to see a lane reduction, protected bike lanes, and parklets added. He thinks that would help the businesses by, among other things, "helping reduce the roaring traffic."

Geoffrey Fletcher of North Beach thinks Columbus Avenue should have protected bike lanes and parkletts
Geoffrey Fletcher of North Beach thinks Columbus Avenue should have protected bike lanes and parklets
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David Becker led the ride for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "Bike to work day is the future of how people should get around in San Francisco," he said. "When you ride a bike, you can't help but smile."

True enough, but as the ride set out on its circuitous path to City Hall via Columbus and the Embarcadero, it was sometimes hard to smile while trying to navigate some of the precarious streets that have seen no real bike infrastructure improvements, except for some wishful 'sharrows.' For example, cyclists had to squeeze between cable car tracks and parked cars, leaving only inches to spare. "Don't ride on the rails!" warned Becker. Cyclists were at the mercy of any motorist who might throw open a car door or pull out of a parking spot, since there's basically zero margin for error, as seen in the image below.

It was hazardous cycling the narrow band of asphalt between the rails and parked cars on Columbus
There is only a narrow band of asphalt between the rails and parked cars on Columbus
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The riders then picked up North Point, and turned down the Embarcadero. Dan Hodapp, a planner with the Port of San Francisco, was also on the ride. He pointed out some paint and safe-hit post improvements installed at some of the Embarcadero intersections, but the situation remains precarious, and there's still no solid time frame for getting protected bike lanes added.

Some plastic straws to make an intersection on the Embarcadero more navigable
Some plastic straws make an intersection on the Embarcadero more navigable
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There are still several parts of the Embarcadero where the bike lane suddenly and inexplicably narrows, which pressed the group even more tightly between fast-moving traffic and parked cars.

The precarious situation at the start of Market Street
The precarious situation at the start of Market Street
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Things didn't get much better when the group turned west onto Market Street for the ride to the rally at City Hall.

Perhaps with most Supervisors agreeing with the mayor's pledge to build twenty more miles of protected bike lanes in the next two years, Supervisor Peskin can start to make some solid progress on the Embarcadero, Columbus, and other streets in the district.

Did you ride this morning? Which district were you in and what were your observations? And which has made the most improvements? Comment below.

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