Injunction Relief? Hardly.
City Proposes Removing Bike Lane — Are You Kidding Us?!
TO SAVE MARKET & OCTAVIA BIKE LANE
Friday January 16, 2009 — 7:30-10:00
Join the Rally this Friday, January 16th at Octavia and Market to save the bike lane and protective barrier that the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) proposes to remove. The SFBC will be joined by elected officials and cyclists who oppose the removal—stop by anytime between 7:30-10am to show your support (press event starts at 9am) Download our press release.
Even if you can't make the Rally, SEND AN EMAIL:
Tell the city 'No Way!' This is a step backwards!
January 7, 2009: the Municipal Transportation Authority voted to approve the removal of the barrier and bike lane at this dangerous intersection. The Planning Department had previously proposed creating a raised and painted bike lane and the SFBC wholeheartedly supported this plan.
Unfortunately, the city intends to ask Judge Busch to allow the removal of the lane as an 'emergency safety improvement' as an exception to the 2-year old injunction against bike improvements. SFBC staff and members who have been injured at this intersection asked the MTA to abandon this ridiculous idea, but the city has chosen to go ahead with this misguided plan anyway.
If you feel strongly about this issue, we urge you to write a letter to the editor to the SF Chronicle and keep checking back here to see what's happening next.
December 1, 2008: The City Attorney's Office and MTA submitted their second request for relief from the Bike Plan injunction, and it doesn't look good. These requests are the only way the City can make any physical improvements for bike traffic during the injunction, which has been in place since June 2006. We'd had high hopes for this relief request, given the previous success with the request to add the new Fell/Masonic bike light (hooray!).
To say the least, we are disappointed with the City's most recent request. Rather than making the case for meaningful, pro-bike improvements, the City Attorney's Office and the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) instead propose removing—yes, removing!—the existing bike lane at the City's most dangerous intersection for cyclists, Market and Octavia, as well as a handful of other largely underwhelming ideas:
1) Remove the bike lane on the approach to Market/Octavia intersection, replacing it with a shared travel lane for motorists and bicyclists. This is pretty nearly the same proposal they submitted to the court last Spring, the same proposal which the court denied. We believe that while MTA might eliminate the bike lane and narrow the remaining single lane, they'll never eliminate bicyclists getting to the right of motor vehicles, whether in the lane itself or on the sidewalk beside it, and the right hook crashes are going to be more cruel and sudden then they are now. Look up and down Market Street for other examples of the "choked" intersection model and how well it forces bikes and motor vehicles to queue up in a single line—of course it doesn't, cyclists filter past cars to the right and left, even if there's only twelve inches to squeeze in. Indeed, the notion of the Market-Gough intersection being a model for what we should do with Market-Octavia (as put forward in the City's motion for injunction relief) is amusing/preposterous, depending on your mood. We should be fixing miserable Market-Gough as well!
What's the alternative? The SF Planning Department has developed a thorough design for the intersection and the overall Upper Market streetscape, one that brings more attention and protection to the bicycle right of way and intersection crossing (for cyclists and pedestrians) and fills in a lot of the wide-open space that presently makes the intersection seem like a freeway interchange, which it is not.
2) A proposal for new bike racks in 2—yes, only 2!—locations. One at the Market/Church intersection and one at 18th & Dolores/Guerrero. While both are good locations and we support adding new bike racks there, it's shocking that this is the best our city decisionmakers can do after a two-year freeze on any new bike racks.
Do you have ideas of other locations that deserve bike racks? The City will be installing nearly 1,000 new racks in mid-2009 and you can request racks anywhere in the city through our website.
3) Minor improvements for five corridors identified as high-collision areas for cyclists. This one seems like the only worthwhile effort, but it's still weak. The locations are:
- Polk St.: suggest adding additional sharrows
- Valencia St.: suggest adding angled striping in bike lane & street markings to warn cyclists of opening doors
- Folsom St.: update bike lane marking with new markings & add angled striping in bike lanes
- 3rd St in Bayview area: add sharrows
- Lower Market St. (8th to Embarcadero): increase the number of sharrows by a whopping 6.
While these improvements are good, they are hardly ambitious. For a "city that knows how" and calls itself green, we have a lot more work to do. After two years of injunction and a freeze on all physical bike improvements on public property, is this really the best the City can come up with for the growing number of cyclists?
We need to send a message to City Attorney Dennis Herrerra, MTA Director Nat Ford, and Mayor Gavin Newsom to let them know that we're disappointed with this weak request for relief. This is hardly relief - instead, it is one more example of how the City needs to step up how seriously it takes the issue of better bicycling.