A Neighborhood Street for All
Polk Street has undeniable local, San Francisco flavor - it's a small business hub which caters to the largely car-free neighborhoods that surround it. Unsurprisingly, most people (and dollars!) go about their Polk Street days on foot, transit or bike, as last year's SFMTA survey confirmed.
Yet in spite of Polk Street's village aspirations, the average month sees one person walking and one person biking involved in a collision - people like 6-year-old Sophia Lu, killed last New Year's Eve by a professional driver. Community hopes for a safer Polk Street have turned to community resentment as plans were dashed by a few local businesses unconvinced of the value of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements.
Polk Street is the heart of many neighborhoods. It connects thousands of us to work and school, to the Bay and Market Street. We have a vision of a Polk Street with bikeway that protect riders, calmer traffic and safer intersections for everyone. For years, we have diligently worked to make this vision a reality, but we need your help to make it happen.
Community-Driven Safer Streets
Many organizations have taken up the cause for a safer Polk Street and Folks for Polk is at the vanguard of the campaign. For months, they have been busy leveraging tech solutions to reach a larger number of neighbors to create a Polk Street for everyone. In October of last year, they took civic outreach to a new level by hosting City planners in the first ever Facebook Q&A with a City agency. They’ve also adapted StreetView Comments, allowing anyone to provide feedback.
The feedback was used to establish their official recommendations which aim "to comprehensively address the complexities of safely accommodating pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and motorists together in a constrained corridor, while embracing a visionary transformation of the Polk Corridor that will enhance vitality and sustainable growth".
The recommendations include a suite of state-of-the-art cycling amenities that would vastly improve safety and are doable within the given time frame and budget. They include: through-intersection striping, special bicycle traffic signals and timing, motor vehicle turn restrictions, and a green wave set to a comfortable cycling speed along the length of Polk.
Folks for Polk also supports the initiative and direction of the SFMTA Board to pilot a fully-buffered cycleway and requested that the next design be implemented such that the transition to a permanent cycleway is as easy and economical once the pilot results are analyzed. Folks for Polk also stands with the SF Bicycle Coalition in support of swift installation of the long-delayed contraflow cycle track at the south end of Polk, near Market Street.
Support the Safer Polk Street Campaign Today
Tthe SFMTA presented their preferred alternative last year for the forthcoming Polk Street project from McAllister to Union Street. The proposal splits Polk Street into two distinct segments, each receiving different levels of infrastructure improvements. While proposal does incorporate certain positive elements, it widely misses the goal of having a continuous and protected bike lane in both directions.
More recently, the northbound Polk Street contraflow bike lane between Market Street and Grove was nearly delayed by a year.
Now is the time to let City leaders know that our safety should never be traded for convenience.
Call District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim at (415) 554-7970 and District 3 Supervisor David Chiu at (415) 554-7450 and request that they support a continuous, protected bike lane and pedestrian safety improvements along the entire length of Polk Street.
Tweet @SupeJaneKim, @DavidChiu and @SFMTA_MUNI and ask them to support bike and pedestrian safety improvements on #PolkStreet!
Send a support letter! You can use the text below as a guide, and email
David.Chiu@sfgov.org, and CC
The Polk Contraflow: A Critical Gap a Decade Overdue
Every Bike to Work Day, City Hall-bound commuter convoys are forced to abandon Market Street's green protected bike lanes, perform a three-point box turn on 9th Street in front of four lanes of fast-moving traffic and go northbound on Larkin Street, with its complete lack of protection for people biking.
Everyone, Supervisors included, are unable to bike up the one-way, three-block stretch of Polk Street from Market to Grove. The solution to this 850 foot gap in the bike network, a bicycle-only contraflow lane, was first proposed in early 2004 and approved the following year in the City's own Bicycle Plan. For ten years, we have doggedly pursued this important project through the Bicycle Plan Injunction and delay after delay. In spite of having all necessary approvals and funding, the City recently informed us that final construction is not expected to be finished until early 2015, more than eleven years after it was first officially identified as a solution.
Would a northbound contraflow bike lane make your trip safer? Let City leaders know that any additional delays are no longer excusable, take action now!
For more information or to volunteer, please contact:
Chema Hernández Gil