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On a short stretch of the bayside of the Embarcadero, parking is no longer allowed. There are red SFMTA bags over the parking meters. There's some fresh asphalt. And as seen in the lead image, there's some green paint and new stripes.

Could it be that, maybe, finally, protected bike lanes are coming to the Embarcadero between Harrison and Mission? Advocate and Streetsblog tipster Parker Day got a chance to check out the initial work and posted video of it below:

"I see this as a big improvement for people on bikes in San Francisco. Entirely anecdotally, reducing the number of general travel lanes from three to two has already lowered the average speed of drivers," wrote Day in an email to Streetsblog. "Speed has always been a safety issue on the Embarcadero. It'd be nice to see the speed limit lowered from 30 to 25."

Indeed, it would. From SFMTA's website on the project, which appears to be slightly behind schedule (note there's also a tiny section of protected lane in front of Pier 35 planned too):

Construction of the Embarcadero Quick-Build Projects began in mid-June 2020. Southbound The Embarcadero between Mission to Howard streets was repaved and road markings including an improved bike lane were installed.

Starting the week of July 27 general metered parking will be bagged for removal on the waterside of The Embarcadero between Harrison and Mission streets in preparation for construction of the Rincon Restaurant Zone and Ferry Terminal Quick-Build Projects.

Prioritizing the protected lanes between the Ferry Terminal and Folsom and Howard will give cyclists safer connections to SoMa. Streetsblog readers will recall that back in January advocates were pushing hard to get this project extended one more block to Harrison because the Waterbar Restaurant (located between Folsom and Harrison) had turned that block of the existing, unprotected bike lane into a de facto valet drop off.

"I'm super excited to see this finally happening!" wrote Dale Munroe, the advocate who documented the Waterbar's continuous violations of the bike lane. "This is the essential first step, but there is still so much to be done, including further reducing/separating vehicle traffic to make this welcoming to riders of all ages and abilities, and extending to cover the whole Embarcadero from the ballpark to the wharf."

A reverse view from the intersection with Folsom. Photo: Parker Day

For now, the entire bike lane will be northbound only, pending the installation of concrete separations which, according to a post from SFMTA, should be installed this month. After that, the stretch between Folsom and Mission will become a bidirectional bikeway.

Munroe, while happy about the improvements, has concerns that the physical barrier (safe-hit posts for now) have gaps that invite motorists to do this:

Aug. 28, near the Waterbar restaurant. Photo: Dale Munroe
Aug. 28, near the Waterbar restaurant. Photo: Dale Munroe

"There's already been at least one documented blocked bike lane here since the painting," Munroe wrote in an email to Streetsblog, referring to the above photo from the city's 311 site. "That could be partially attributed to the unfinished installation of posts in that region, but the final design includes a gap in posts nearby for the SFFD station driveway anyway, so blockages like this are likely to continue happening even once completed."

Streetsblog hopes SFMTA will make sure to remedy these problems before concrete is poured. Streetsblog has a request into SFMTA for more information and will update this post.

"I’m really glad to see this finally come to fruition, and I really hope the SFMTA implements a Quick-Build along the entire Embarcadero, removing parking where necessary until the long-term Embarcadero protected bikeway project is approved and funded," said Bruce Halperin, another advocate heavily involved in developments along the Embarcadero.

"We're excited to see implementation of quick-build projects like the Embarcadero go in after we fought and won those changes before shelter-in-place began. The Port of San Francisco, with direction from their Commission, made commitments to explore a quick-build option for a protected bike lane for the full length of the Embarcadero, and we continue to strongly support that," wrote the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's Janice Li, in an email to Streetsblog. "We hope that the SFMTA and Port will work urgently to bring a concept forward soon so that San Franciscans can enjoy world-class biking on our waterfront."

"The protected bike lanes should be extended to Fisherman's Wharf as soon as possible if we truly care about Vision Zero," added Day.

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