kristin, February 4th, 2014Yesterday the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) Board of Directors held an all-day retreat to lay out the agency’s priorities for 2014. A single message emerged loud and clear as speaker after speaker urged the Board to prioritize safety and affordable transportation options on San Francisco’s streets.
It’s clear: the public wants street safety prioritized not merely in words, but in committing action and funding.Stephanie Kwan, a 45-year-old who bikes with her two kids to school, told the Board that she does not bike out of “necessity,” but because she’s “practical” and it’s just easier and faster by bike. She estimates five other families bike regularly at the school of 500 students. Parents tell her that more would ride if there were calmer streets and more dedicated bikeways.
MTA Board members spoke strongly about the agency’s commitment to safety, and they unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Vision Zero policy of setting the goal of zero traffic deaths in 10 years. MTA staff admitted that bicycle and pedestrian projects have been “historically underfunded,” and they laid out grand visions and encouraging words for bike and pedestrian plans.
Many expressed frustration that these plans fell far short of real commitment to street safety. The MTA’s initial baseline budget — shared publicly for the first time here — looked dismally like business-as-usual, lacking a significant uptick in bicycle and pedestrian funding. Priya Sawhney of Central City Collaborative, a group that represents long-income tenants in the Tenderloin and SoMa, shared stories of seniors who are too scared of fast-moving traffic to even cross the street. “If we really believe in Vision Zero, it would be great to actually implement the plans,” said Sawhney.
MTA Board members seemed to recognize the disconnect between words and actions, and they directed staff to make safety a priority in this budget, which is being developed now and will be voted on in March. All eyes are now on the MTA to take action.
“We need to do whatever it takes to make this happen,” said Board Chair Tom Nolan, emphasizing the need to be mindful of our most vulnerable road users – seniors, kids and people with disabilities. “We just have to act as quickly as possible. This rises to the top as far as I’m concerned.” “Even if the transportation measures don’t pass, this is not something we can’t do,” said Board member Cheryl Brinkman, referring to the transportation funding measures likely to be on the November ballot.
Director Joel Ramos repeated concerns that a commitment to a Vision Zero policy was not strong enough. He directly asked staff for a commitment to implement 24 bicycle and pedestrian safety projects (one per month) within the next 2 years, as called for in the resolution they passed.Supervisor Jane Kim’s legislative aide, Sunny Angulo, spoke at the hearing, to reiterate that 60% of traffic injuries occur on a mere 6% of our streets and should be preventable. She said the Supervisor is looking to the MTA Board to fund and commit to actions implemented by a Crisis Intervention Team as part of Vision Zero.
Unfortunately the call for action seemed to be watered down by MTA staff. Executive Director Ed Reiskin’s explanation of when and how near-term improvements on the city’s most troublesome streets (mostly in SoMa and the Tenderloin) would happen was unclear, at best. Instead of a lack of funding, he blamed the city’s long and cumbersome public process for re-allocating street space.
Reiskin’s behavior was in stark contrast to Police Chief Greg Suhr, who stepped up two weeks ago to commit to concrete actions in his department’s support for Vision Zero. Meanwhile, despite strong stated Board leadership, Reiskin continues to be noncommittal — at least publicly — in saying how his department will act on the street safety crisis at hand.
This lack of urgency and timely delivery of near-term street safety improvements from the MTA staff was a common theme throughout the meeting, with concerns raised by Board members and community members. The myth that “we’re going as fast as we can” is being questioned by people both inside and outside the agency. A recent report by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority detailed the chronic problems with project management at the MTA and other City agencies that work to improve transportation. These are long-known problems that the agencies have had in their power to fix for years, and still do.
The reality is that it will take real leadership to get the MTA to choose to really go after the vision the agency has set for itself through its Strategic Plan and the 2013-2018 Bicycle Strategy. It will require leadership to move away from funding biking at less than 1% of the agency’s budget and towards a budget that reflects the agency’s top strategic plan priority: “Create a safer transportation experience for everyone.”
Huge thanks to the many members and community leaders who took the time to speak about the importance of funding biking! It is absolutely crucial that these decision-makers hear from you. In fact, the SFMTA and Board of Supervisors will be voting on whether to fund biking or to maintain the status quo at a number of upcoming hearings. These decision-makers need to hear from everyone who cares about making our streets less chaotic and less stressful for everyone. Email email@example.com to get involved in the campaign to fund biking, and check out our earlier blog to learn more about what 8% for biking would mean for you.
kristin, December 12th, 2013
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) released its 2013 Bicycle Count Report today, which shows that the number of people biking in San Francisco increased a dramatic 96% since 2006.
The SFMTA conducts annual citywide bicycle counts at 51 locations across San Francisco, and compares those counts from year to year. This year’s Bicycle Count Report showed huge growth in ridership in neighborhoods across the city.
“We’re thrilled, though not surprised, to see that more and more people are discovering how easy, fun and convenient biking is to get around San Francisco,” said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “More biking means a better San Francisco for everyone — safer streets for everyone, more open seats on Muni and more available parking spots for people who really need them.”
The City has an official goal of 20% of trips by 2020. Mayor Lee showed enthusiasm about these continuously rising bike counts and support for building better bikeways to ensure that the growing number of San Franciscan bicycling have a safe, connected bicycle network.
“Every year we are seeing more people riding a bicycle in San Francisco, and the latest bicycle count data proves it,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “With an increasing amount of people riding bicycles, we must continue to ensure improvements are made to increase the safety, connectivity and convenience of our city’s bike network. With bicycling becoming more commonplace in San Francisco, we must meet and support the rising demand for better bikeways.”
Notable numbers from the SFMTA 2013 Bicycle Count Report:
- 96% increase in ridership between 2006 and 2013
- 14% increase in ridership between 2011 and 2013
- Market Street inbound averages up to 3,000 bikes per day
- Intersection of 2nd and Townsend Streets showed highest growth between 2011 and 2013, attributed to growth in jobs in SoMa and increase in bicycling to Caltrain station
- Polk Street, the City’s main North/South route showed a 36% increase, supporting the need for safe bikeways on this corridor
The 2013 Bicycle Count Report especially underscore the impact that adding bicycle infrastructure improvements can have in encouraging more people to ride bikes. New bicycle improvements showed an increase in ridership across San Francisco:
- Portola Avenue and O’Shaughnssy Boulevard, 83%
- Page and Stanyan Streets, 78% increase
- Fell and Scott Streets, 52% increase
- 14th and Folsom Streets, 19%
- Howard Street and the Embarcadero, 13%
“It’s clear that if we build it, they will come,” said Shahum. “No other mode of transportation is growing as fast or has a higher return on investment in terms of improving our city for everyone. It’s time for the City to truly invest in our bicycle network, and ensure that our City’s streets are welcoming and comfortable for the growing number of people riding.”
kristin, October 22nd, 2013
San Francisco’s most dangerous intersection is one step closer to safety. The long-awaited right turn enforcement camera will finally be installed at Market and Octavia on November 1, catching drivers making illegal, dangerous and in multiple cases, deadly, right turns onto the freeway. There are more injury collisions at Market and Octavia than any other intersection in the city.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has been working since 2007 to get this right turn enforcement camera added at Market and Octavia. Our members joined us on the street, in City Hall and in the State Capital to advocate for this critical safety improvement. The Market and Octavia camera is the first right turn enforcement camera in San Francisco, and it took new state legislation and years of our advocacy in order to get it. We thank Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and the California Bicycle Coalition for their years of commitment in helping move this critical safety improvement forward.
While we are relieved to see this long-overdue safety improvement at Market & Octavia, it is disturbing to realize how long this critical safety improvement took, given that Market and Octavia is the most dangerous intersection in the entire city. We call on City leaders to step up their urgency and action toward addressing the known dangerous areas on our streets, particularly in the South of Market area, where we’ve seen a tragic rash of deaths. These are preventable fatalities, and the City must step up to its responsibility to move faster to fix these streets.
We invite our members to join us in calling on the City to improve SoMa’s deadly streets and intersections now, before anyone else is injured or killed. Please sign our letter to the Mayor calling for No More Deaths on SoMa Streets at sfbike.org/soma and join us for an on-street action for safe SoMa streets on Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30 AM and a Folsom Street Pilot meeting on Wednesday evening.
kristin, July 10th, 2013
Next week the City’s Better Market Street team will be holding public workshops to get your feedback on three options for improving biking on Market Street. Please attend a workshop to speak up for a separated bikeway the length of Market Street.
The City has recently backed away from the glaring need to make biking on Market truly safe and comfortable for people of all ages and backgrounds. The agencies are now spending significant sums of money studying a new option of a bikeway on Mission and no biking improvements on Market.
As you well know, the reality is that Market Street has been, and will continue to be, the most logical and easiest biking route for most people, and should be treated accordingly. Bikes belong on Market!
Please RSVP for one of the upcoming workshops to speak up loud and clear for bikes on Market Street, and to give feedback on the specific design details of the proposals.
Wednesday, July 17, 6-8:30PM
Parc 55 Hotel ballroom, 55 Cyril Magnin Street
Valet bike parking
Saturday, July 20, 10AM– 12:30PM
Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street
Learn more about our Market Street work here.
kristin, June 19th, 2013
On Monday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Development Committee held a hearing to put the City’s work on improving Market Street under the microscope. Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Chiu repeated their previously expressed concern with the delays to the project, which was slated to be underway in 2013 and has now been pushed to 2017 or later.
Supervisor Chiu and a diverse group of local business and community stakeholders pushed the City to implement pilot projects and other near-term improvements to speed up transit time and improve safety for people walking and biking along our City’s busy corridor. Supervisor Wiener called for more immediate enforcement of double parking and transit-only lanes, which endanger people biking and walking and impede transit.
The Department of Public Works is currently in the process of much-needed repaving of the outer lanes of Market Street between Van Ness and Stewart streets, but it remains unclear if the City will move forward with additional near-term improvements to the street. Transportation leaders urged the City to get this project back on track and move forward with improvements for people walking, biking and taking transit on Market Street.
“For more than 150 years, Market Street has been about motion. It is literally our city’s main artery and we need to focus our efforts and resources to make it flow more efficiently, for transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike. If we compromise this goal for other considerations, we will be saddled with higher Muni operating costs and less safe conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians for decades to come,” said Rick Laubscher, President of the Market Street Railway.
“Every day, a quarter of a million people walk on Market Street; it’s time to prioritize safer crossings along our city’s main walking boulevard. Plus, over half of all Muni buses run on Market Street at the evening rush hour; if we can speed up those buses we can improve our public transit system citywide. The Mission option shows no benefit for transit. We need to see clear actions to achieve better walking and better transit on Market – quickly,” said Elizabeth Stampe, Executive Director of Walk San Francisco.
Community leaders, transportation advocates, business owners and everyday bike riders spoke up against thie proposal to move bikes onto Mission Street, and urged the City to refocus its efforts on improving biking on Market Street.
“Market Street is one of the busiest biking corridors in the country, and the huge and growing number of people biking on Market have already enlivened this street. We urge the City to continue its work to improve biking on this key corridor. A truly better Market Street will include separated bikeways the full length, which allow locals and tourists to explore and shop along our city’s main boulevard,” said Kit Hodge, Deputy Director of the 12,000-member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
“I prefer riding Market over Mission Street for the mere fact that Market Street is historic and is a crucial connecting spine of the city to my work, retail and other forms of transit. It is much more convenient in many ways. On my way home, I sometimes find myself ‘detouring’ to a local business/retail because of the accessibility from Market Street,” said Paul Valdez, who bikes daily from the Mission District to his job at a downtown Marketing firm.
“As a building and business owner on Market Street, who bought in when people would have laughed at the idea of housing and Twitter on upper Market, bicyclists have done more to bring life to this wasteland than anything else. There is a new, vibrant face to Market Street which makes our City seem personal and vital,” said Christopher Dolan, who owns Dolan Law Firm on Market Street.
The City will hold two more public meetings on Market Street in July, where the public can weigh in on the design options. July 17, 6-8:30PM at Parc 55 Hotel ballroom; July 20 from 10AM-12:30PM at the Main Library.
To learn more about the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s vision for Market Street bikeways, visit sfbike.org/market.
kristin, June 6th, 2013
Big news for our city’s busiest bicycle corridor: The full outside lanes and bikeways of Market Street will be repaved starting this week, resulting in a safer, smoother commute for the huge and growing number of people biking on this core bike route.
The Department of Public Works will begin repaving the stretch of Van Ness to 6th Street on Friday night. The rest of Market will be repaved later in June and early July. So this summer, you’ll have a smoother, safer ride all the way from Van Ness Avenue to the Embarcadero.
We’ve heard from our members that the poor pavement quality on Market Street is of utmost concern for them, and often a deterrent to riding their bikes to work. That’s why the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has made improving Market Street one of our primary campaigns.
Your SF Bicycle Coalition has been pushing for near-term improvements to Market Street, while still advocating for a much bigger and truly Better Market Street that includes safe, separated bikeways the full length. We’re proud that our relentless calls for Market Street improvements resulted in patch pavements of 35 sections last year, and a full, fresh repaving starting this week!
In order to do the full repaving of these lanes, the City will have to remove the existing bikeway, including the safe hit posts. New paint and posts will go in shortly, and we’ll continue to communicate with the City and our members about exact dates of when the bikeway will be put back in.
While we’re thrilled that the outside lanes and bikeways will be given fresh, smooth pavement, we’re also continuing our calls for bigger changes to Market Street. We know that smooth pavement is a great start, but our city’s main corridor deserves separated bikeways, safer pedestrian improvements and improved transit.
Stay tuned for an updated on Market Street hearings in the coming weeks, as we’ll need you to join us in calling for the City to get the Better Market Street Project back on track.
Please know that huge wins like this are only made possible by the support of San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members. You can’t write grants or ask foundations for help on this kind of project; it’s only possible by tenacious, on-the-ground advocacy. If you’re not yet a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, please join today, and ensure that smooth pavement is just the beginning!
SF Bicycle Coalition, May 9th, 2013
Bikes account for 76% of morning traffic on Market Street; New Market Street Bike Counter Unveiled and Counts Thousands of Riders, including Mayor and Supes
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, Mayor Ed Lee, 9 of the 11 District Supervisors, and City and business leaders joined thousands of people in pedaling to the office this morning for the 19th Annual Bike to Work Day.
This year’s Bike to Work Day was one for the record books! Manual bike counts by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue showed that bikes accounted for 76% of all eastbound traffic between 8:30 and 9:30AM, the highest percentage since the SFMTA began counting in 1998. In the last five years, Bike to Work Day bike counts have increased 40.7%!
While the highest ever Bike to Work Day bike counts are impressive, the counts the SFMTA conducted on an average workday are equally impressive. On Thursday, April 18, bikes accounted for 66% of all inbound traffic at Market and Van Ness, up 3% since last year. Bike traffic has soared in the last five years on Market Street on regular days, going from about 38% of trips to 67% of vehicles on the street.
“Today’s record-breaking Bike to Work Day counts reinforce what we see every day in the bike lanes: huge numbers of people biking in San Francisco. We’re thrilled to see that today bikes accounted for a whopping 76% of inbound Market Street traffic during the morning commute. It is even more impressive that on an average workday, bikes account for 66% of traffic. If we continue to connect San Francisco with safe, separated bikeways, we can certainly meet the City’s goal of 20% of trips by bike by 2020,” said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which organizes the big event, including 26 Energizer Stations, Commuter Convoys and hundreds of volunteers.
In addition to the SFMTA’s manual counts, bikes were also counted at the new Market Street bike counter. At 7:15 this morning, San Francisco’s new Market Street digital bike counter was unveiled. By 9:00AM, the digital bike counter had already counted 1,300 bikes.
Mayor Lee and Supervisors were among some of the first bike riders counted by the Market Street counter. The Mayor’s Commuter Convoy, made up of neighborhood and business leaders, pedaled from the Dogpatch neighborhood, along the waterfront to SOMA to Market Street and finally City Hall for the Bike to Work Day press conference, where City officials pledged support for more and better bicycling. Mayor Lee’s bike count number was 729.
“This Bike to Work Day really highlights the increased popularity bike riding has seen in the past decade and also demonstrates San Francisco’s support for the growth to come in the next ten years,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “Thank you to all who participated this year to make this San Francisco’s biggest Bike to Work Day yet. Special thanks also to the various businesses and establishments for their ongoing support and recognition of the economic, environmental, health and transportation benefits bicycling has to offer our city.”
As part of the City Hall press conference, Mayor Lee presented the 2013 Bicycle-Friendly Business Awards to four San Francisco companies leading the way in promoting bicycling at their workplace. Local companies Meraki, Method Products, Inc, David Baker + Partners Architects and Timbuk2 were all honored for their leadership in encouraging their employees to bike to work.
Juli Uota was one of the thousands of bike riders counted by the Market Street bike counter today, and one of the many new bike riders in the last few years. Uota learned to ride a bike three years ago through the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Adult Learn to Ride class. She now bikes to work two to three times per week from the Outer Richmond to downtown San Francisco.
“Biking has made me a lot healthier; I’m certainly always happier when I arrive at my destination. And it’s also made me feel much more connected to not only the people, the green spaces, but also my local businesses along my bike routes. Biking has given me a sense of freedom and a sense of community that I never found in my car. I am a great example of someone who bikes today because our city made a commitment to increase biking,” Uota said.
For more high resolution images, go to flickr.com/sfbike.
Bike to Work Day 2013 is presented by 511.org and Kaiser Permanente, with promotions organized by the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and county congestion management agencies.
p: 415-431-2453 x308
kristin, April 16th, 2013
More people are biking in San Francisco than ever. Just how many more? We’ll soon know — on a daily basis. Today, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors publicly announced that San Francisco will receive its first automated real-time bike counter, to be installed on Market Street.
The new automated bike counter, also known as a bicycle barometer, will be installed on the sidewalk on the south side of Market Street between 9th and 10th Streets and record all bikes heading eastbound. Counts are visibly displayed, showing daily and annual compilations.
“The bike counter will underscore the huge and growing number of people biking on our city’s main corridor,” said Leah Shahum, the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Executive Director, who helped find sponsorship for this project. “Market Street is already one of the busiest bicycling streets in the country with very little dedicated bike space. It will be exciting to track further growth as we focus on improvements to Market Street to boost access to jobs and a stronger economic vibrancy in San Francisco.”
The SFMTA is aiming to install the bike counter by Bike to Work Day on May 9, when record numbers of people are expected to be bicycling throughout the city as more people discover the ease of commuting on two wheels. Bicycling is booming in San Francisco, with a more than 71% increase in the number of people biking between 2006 and 2011, according to the SFMTA’s most recent counts.
The innovative bike counter, pioneered in Copenhagen and recently installed in Seattle and Portland, will report real-time the number of people bicycling on Market Street, which outpaces the number of autos during peak hours on the city’s main transit-first corridor. Market Street has seen some of the largest increase in ridership, with a 98% growth between 2006 and 2011, and 750 bike riders counted in just one hour on Market and 5th Streets on an average week day.
“The installation of this innovative bicycle barometer comes at a critical moment in San Francisco,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “As more and more San Franciscans are using a bicycle as part of their everyday commute, this visual bike counter will raise awareness of the positive impact bicycling has on traffic congestion, air quality and personal health.”
Businesses along Market Street are also looking forward to the innovative bike counter. “We’re excited to see the new bicycle counter to the mid-Market area,” said Jonas Jackel of Huckleberry Bicycles. “More people biking helps enliven this area, and bring even more business to the corridor.”
“Everyday, we see hundreds of people bike past our office on Market Street. More people biking is good for this street and it’s good for our city. It will be exciting to get to see just how many people are biking here on a daily basis,” says Christopher Santos of the Dolan Law Firm.
The bicycle counter is partly paid for by a generous $20,000 donation by Kongregate, a leading web and mobile game site based in San Francisco. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition facilitated this sponsorship. The Central Market Community Benefits District will maintain the counter.
“At Kongregate we’re pleased to be a part of making bike commuting a mainstream activity,” says Kongregate Founder and longtime SF Bicycle Coalition member, Jim Greer, who bikes daily in San Francisco with his kids. “As a bike commuter, I love that bikes are being counted and celebrated. As a gamer, I love keeping score. It’ll be great to see the first bike counted, and even better to see the one millionth.”
neal, February 26th, 2013
In 2009, with tremendous volunteer and member support, the SF Bicycle Coalition helped champion 45 projects that are now making it easier to get around the city by bike. While most of those projects were bike lanes (like Cesar Chavez Street, Illinois Street and Alemany Boulevard) some projects were designed as safety improvements at problematic intersections, like the intersection of Market and Valencia streets.
In December 2012 the SFMTA installed a left turn waiting area and bike signal at the intersection of Market and Valencia. This project gives people wanting to turn left from Market onto Valencia by bike a calmer and safer option – as opposed to cutting across two travel lanes with MUNI tracks and traffic.
We asked you, our members, how the new left-turn bay and bike signal was working, and here is what we heard:
Most people preferred the new configuration, while 29% said they preferred to change lanes earlier to make the left turn onto Valencia. We asked whether the Market Street through-lane and the waiting area to make the left turns were wide enough and most people said they were adequate (about 70% for each).
We received lots of suggestions on how to further improve the intersection design. Here are the top three suggestions, and an explanation of what the SF Bicycle Coalition will do to improve this:
Automobile drivers and bike riders that are going straight on Market sometimes do not stop at the red light causing some near misses for those using the bike signal to go left onto Valencia.
SF Bicycle Coalition: We have encouraged the SFMTA to monitor this situation and will observe behavior at this intersection ourselves if this continues to be a problem. It often takes a few months for people to understand and adjust to new traffic changes – if you feel like the situation is not improving let us know.
The signal timing makes using the new bike signal too slow.
SF Bicycle Coalition: Thank you for this feedback – we are working with the SFMTA to see if the signal timing at the intersection can be adjusted. We expect that the wait time can be shortened a little, though it still might take a little longer to use the new signal than riding in traffic. Fortunately – you now have another option if you don’t want to cross lanes, even if it takes a few seconds longer.
While the dimensions of the through lane and left turn waiting area feel adequate right now, what will happen as the number of people biking here increases?
SF Bicycle Coalition: Great question – as the summer approaches and more people are on bikes, we’ll be observing this intersection for capacity issues. There are options to widen or elongate the through-lane and waiting area by further narrowing the sidewalk or removing one or two trees. If these changes prove to be needed, the SF Bicycle Coalition would work with you, our members, neighboring businesses and residents and citywide advocacy groups to develop solutions to ensure safe and comfortable biking at this intersection.
We at the SF Bicycle Coalition are thrilled to see people enjoying the new facility, even as we work on making further improvements. As one survey respondent wrote, this new turn pocket and signal “Takes the stress of my whole commute away!”
Neal Patel is the Planning Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and leads our Connecting the City campaign. Click here to find out how you can support 100 miles of crosstown bikeways in San Francisco.
If you have any questions about this project, please contact Neal Patel, Planning Director for the SF Bicycle Coalition neal AT sfbike DOT org.
kristin, February 12th, 2013
City and community leaders are adding their voices of concern about the continued delay of the Better Market Street project and a new proposal to move bikes from Market Street to Mission Street.
Below are statements from San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, Chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board; San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, Chair of the Land Use Committee; and Randy Shaw, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. Both Supervisors have called for hearings on the status of the Better Market Street Project.
A Public Letter From Supervisor John Avalos
February 12, 2013:
As the newly elected chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, I am concerned about the recent announcements around the Better Market Street project.
For several years now, I have been excited about the prospect of impending major improvements to Market Street. So I was taken aback when I heard of plans to delay the completion of Better Market Street project 2019, and of a new proposal to move bikes off of Market Street onto Mission Street.
Market Street is the most bicycled street West of the Mississippi, and I believe it deserves dedicated cycle tracks along its full length. The current state of Market Street with the “now you see it, now you don’t” zig-zagging bike lane is unbecoming for the premiere thoroughfare of one of America’s premier bicycling cities.
As a regular bike-commuter, I’m excited every time I bike down Market to see the dramatic increase in bicycle traffic year after year. The Eastbound right-turn requirements on 10th and 6th Streets have made walking and cycling safer and sped up Muni without significant impacts to the surrounding streets. But the handful of private cars on Market Street continues to gum up the works for the other uses.
We, as City officials, can’t squander this once in a lifetime opportunity to transform San Francisco’s main thoroughfare into a vibrant corridor, filled with active and reliable transit, sidewalks full of pedestrians, robust local businesses and safe, separated bikeways.
That’s why I am calling for an update on the Better Market Street project at the February 26th meeting of the Transportation Authority to see what we can do to expedite the project. I believe we can work with our partners at BART to minimize the “pinch points” that constrain Market Street at the BART stops. I am also hopeful that working with the Department of Public Works and the Public Utilities Commission, we can minimize the costs and delays associated with relocating infrastructure to help deliver a Better Market Street on time and on budget.
I look forward to working together to renew plans for a better Market Street.
A Press Release from Supervisor Scott Wiener
February 12, 2013:
At today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener will call for a hearing on the status of the Better Market Street project, including the plan to establish permanent bicycle lanes on Mission Street and reroute all bus traffic from Mission Street to Market Street. This recently floated idea, which could result in reduced bike improvements on Market Street, has caused considerable debate and controversy. At this hearing City agencies will provide an update on the project, as well as the schedule and progress being made to improve inter-agency coordination.“The Better Market Street project should be the best example of improving our streets through creating safer pedestrian and bike access and making thoughtful transit decisions,” said Supervisor Wiener. “The plan should encourage people to make better use of public space and to advance our city’s Transit-First policy. We need to carefully scrutinize any changes to the plan that could impact that goal.”
Recent reports have revealed that one of the three proposals being studied for the project would create a protected bike lane on Mission Street while re-routing the Mission 14 buses onto Market Street. This would make Mission Street – not Market Street – the primary route for bicyclists in the area and could result in loss of street parking on Mission Street.
“Our city’s main street should be inviting for people walking, taking transit, and, of course, bicycling,” said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “The recent proposal to move bikes off of Market Street is counter to a vision that so many community and business leaders share for a great Market Street that we can all be proud of. The City’s small improvements of separated bikeways on mid-Market Street have already welcomed record numbers of people to bicycling and supported a rejuvenated mid-Market Street. Now is the time to expand on what’s working, not to give up before trying. We urge the City to step up to the opportunity for a truly great Market Street.”
Construction on the Better Market Street plan has been delayed to 2017 – four years passed the original intended construction date – due to underestimation of the complexity of the process and lack of coordinated project management. The Better Market Street project is the combined effort ember, Board of Supervisors City and County of San Francisco District 8 of multiple agencies including DPW, the Municipal Transportation Agency, the Planning Department, and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. The hearing will take place in early March at the Land Use and Economic Development Committee.
Mayor Lee initiated a planning process for the revival of Central Market in January 2011, and, amazingly, it actually came up with a community-backed plan (the Central Market Economic Strategy) only ten months later. After decades of meetings about Market Street that brought no results, a new process had set the city on the right path in less than one year.
While the Mid-Market-Tenderloin tax credit galvanized the area’s renewed investment, the city’s efficient adoption of a coherent strategy for Mid-Market also sent a powerful message: it said that this time the mayor and city officials were serious about action.
“Market Street needs to be more than a transportation route, it needs to be the city’s most vibrant public space and many San Franciscans feel it falls far short of this ideal.”
Unlike the Geary BRT, which faced business opposition from the start, everyone was on the same page about Market Street. Even longtime skeptics believed that, after fifty years of decline, San Francisco’s onetime great boulevard was finally on the road back.
That’s why talk of shifting buses from Mission to Market and sending bicyclists in the reverse direction is so troubling. While I understand that “all options must be explored,” and believe in “keeping an open mind,” that Market Street is seriously being considered as a transportation hub for above-ground buses rather than bicycles is entirely inconsistent with the vision for the street that emerged from the community planning process.
This process concluded that a “Better Market Street” is all about it becoming a “vibrant public space” and “more than a transportation route.” Why then is this new bus option even on the table?
Or, as many who participated in creating a consensus vision for Market Street may be asking themselves, why be further involved if ideas contrary to what has been agreed upon can suddenly become viable? The plan for turning Market into a more intense bus route replaces consensus with confusion, creating the mistaken impression that the city’s vision for Market is entirely up for grabs.
Keep Market Street on Track! Market Street has come too far in the past two years for its progress to be slowed by radical and backward visions that lack community or public support. The implementation of Better Market Street has already been pushed back to 2017. While this is later than some would like, it also enables projects like ACT’s new theater, the Market Street Plaza shopping center, and planned new housing on Market to come on line prior to the street renovations.
Nobody cares more about revitalizing Market Street than Mayor Lee. If even this most hands-on of all mayors can’t prevent San Francisco’s seemingly endless public planning processes from delaying Market’s improvement, then Kieran Farr’s lack of trust in the city’s ability to implement transit improvements will be widely shared.
And our historic opportunity to return Market Street to its former greatness as the city’s most visually exhilarating thoroughfare will have been lost.
Chain of Events
SFBC Flickr Pool