Improvements Approved on Polk, Arguello by Leah Shahum

Thanks to the support of bicyclists, pedestrian advocates, and merchants, bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements on Polk Street and Arguello Boulevard were approved by the SF Board of Supervisors. The vote on the day before Bike to Work Day was 6-2 in favor of the Polk St. proposal, and 8-0 in favor of Arguello Blvd.

One southbound lane of traffic will be removed on Polk Street, between Vallejo and Turk Sts., with bike lanes striped between Post and Turk Sts. On Arguello Blvd., one to two traffic lanes will be removed to make room for bike lanes the entire stretch of the street.

Polk and Arguello, key routes in the Bicycle Network, were part of the package approved last summer by the Parking and Traffic Commission. After hundreds of supporters spoke out at the July hearing, the Commission approved only three of the 11 street improvements.

The proposal to change Polk St. hit opposition from the Polk St. Merchants Association, which claimed the removal of a traffic lane would kill their businesses [see letter, p.2]. Bicycle advocates were joined by pedestrian groups, schools, and youth centers in support of the plan, ultimately convincing enough members of the Board that one less lane of traffic on Polk Street would improve safety not only for bicyclists but also for pedestrians. Voting in favor were Supervisors Ammiano, Becerril, Bierman, Katz, Leno, and Yaki. Voting against were Supervisors Newsom and Teng. Supervisor Yee voted against both bike lanes in committee but was absent for the full Board vote, as were Brown and Kaufman.

Before the proposal passed the Board, SFBC volunteers talked to at least 19 Polk St. merchants who supported the change.

"I think it is good for the whole atmosphere on Polk Street," says John Harrison, owner of Central Records on Polk St. "It will be a more pleasant street and a more inviting atmosphere for shoppers."