Key Bike Lanes in Danger or Removal by Jenny Worley and Renee Rivera

Can you name this bike route? It's the safest, flattest, and most direct route connecting the Mission, SOMA, Market Street, and the Tenderloin to the Marina, the Presidio, and the Marin Headlands. It leads riders along a street lined with cafes, bookstores, restaurants, and vintage shops. It's a key commuting corridor for many cyclists. If you've biked the city for any length of time, you know I'm talking about Polk Street. And if you've ridden Polk recently, you've noticed the new bike lanes on lower Polk and the wider shared lane on central Polk. Cool, huh? But don't get too comfortable yet.

This new, bike-friendly design, made in response to SFBC requests in 1998, was instituted for a six-month trial period in May 2000. Now the trial period is up and in the next few months there will be a public hearing, followed by the City's final decision to keep or scrap the new design. Unfortunately, the bike lanes face opposition from a minority of merchants on Polk, including the powerful Polk Street Merchants Association. Unless cyclists can convince the city to make them permanent, these bike lanes could be history.

On the positive side, the bike lanes have the support of many Polk Street merchants who feel that cyclists are good customers and believe that slower/less car traffic means safer, cleaner, quieter streets for pedestrians and more foot traffic for their shops. Many Polk area residents also support the bike lanes because they create a more pleasant, safer environment for walking, shopping, dining, and running errands.

In order to garner more support for these crucial lanes, SFBC members have been talking to merchants, gathering signatures, and planning a Polk Street Outreach Day on April 21st to educate residents, cyclists, shoppers, and merchants in the area. If you are interested in supporting the final approval of the Polk Street bike lanes, here's what you can do:

Bicycle-Friendly Businesses on Polk Street:
These merchants support bike lanes. Please stop by and thank them!

Arsen's Deli, 1754 Polk
Bell Tower, 1900 Polk
Buffalo Exchange, 1800 Polk
Designer Mattress & Futon Outlet, 733 Polk
Don Francisco Restaurant, 1300 Polk
Eltawil Mediterranean Deli, 1806 Polk
Frame Masters, 731 Polk
Giliony's Restaurant, 632 Polk
Gramophone Video, 1538 Polk
ICI Delux Paints, 1580 Pacific
Kentucky Fried Chicken, 691 Eddy at Polk
Leopard Room, 1825 Polk
Lombardi Sports, 1600 Jackson
Lovely Hair, Nails & Skin Care, 710 Polk
Mary's Manicure, 2030 Polk
MBE, 2040 Polk
Quan's Photo, 747 Polk
Rj fine foods, 1609 Polk
Radio Shack, 1841 Polk
Skates on Haight, 1219 Polk
Smoke on Polk, 644 Polk
Subway, 753 Polk
Sunrise Restaurant, 704 Polk
Sun's Cafe, 652 Polk
Virgil's Hair Studio, 614 Polk
XS Bar, 622 Polk
(list is a work in progress, watch for more supporters)