Polk Street connects thousands of San Franciscans to work, school, the waterfront and thriving commercial corridors from Market Street to the Bay — on bikes. According to SFMTA bike counts, biking on Polk Street has grown dramatically from 2006 to 2011; annual counts indicate a 79% growth in biking at McAllister and Polk Street and a 66% growth at Polk and Sutter. Increasingly, people are biking and walking on Polk Street to visit the growing number of restaurants, shops, gyms, and bars on this corridor; according to the SFMTA’s Polk Street Intercept Survey, approximately 30% of respondents stated that they visited Polk Street to eat or shop (at the time of the survey).
My name is Caroline Blanding and I live on the corner of Hyde and Clay streets, just two blocks from Polk Street. I have lived here for 8 years, and I often walk and bike on Polk Street, as it is the only reasonable bike route to and from my house.
I also own a car, which I park in the neighborhood. I am very sympathetic to the need for parking in this area (it’s bad!), but notwithstanding that, I think that improving bicycle safety on Polk Street is *more important*. I almost never drive or park on Polk Street, because there are so many other streets that are better for driving and parking in the neighborhood. However, EVERY time I bike, I basically have to use Polk Street. It is the only street around here that comes remotely close to safe for cycling — and at present it is barely that. To say that Polk Street is less dangerous for cycling than other nearby streets is not to say that it is safe!
While I strongly encourage you to look for ways to make up for any parking lost in a Polk Street renovation, I want to be perfectly clear that in my opinion safe cycling and walking on Polk Street are even more important. It’s a matter of safety for cyclists, but merely of convenience for cars.
If you also care about the future of Polk Street, like Caroline, please be sure to let us know that you’ll be attending the upcoming MTA meetings about the future of this incredible commercial corridor (Saturday, April 27th and Tuesday, April 30th). Details here.