Voices for a Safer Polk Street: Tara

Meet Tara, one of the thousands of people who live, work, shop and bike along Polk Street. Here’s why she wants to see safety improvements on Polk Street:

I commute on Polk Street by bicycle daily (riding south to Civic Center BART), to get to my job as an engineer at the East Bay Municipal Utility District. I also bike north along Polk Street on my way to Marin for longer recreation rides, so on a weekly basis I cover the entire length of Polk Street by bike.

First, let me say, I LOVE riding my bike. However, this experience can be rather harrowing. I’ve had two big crashes in the past 5 years – one involving the emergency room and weeks off work, both involving cars that didn’t see me riding in the bike lane, despite my very serious attempts at always being visible. I’ve had countless near misses, mostly involving car doors, cars entering the bike lane, and yahoos blindly running through the bike lane to/from taxis.

For my own personal safety and quality of life reasons, I would love to see separated bike ways on Polk Street! I need smoother pavement and more separation from vehicles when biking and safer crosswalks at the busy intersections.

But selfishness aside, Polk Street is the only direct, “flat” route from the heart of the city to the north. Regardless of how it’s accomplished, Polk Street should be safe for families and tourists, and everyone to ride.

If you also care about the future of Polk Street, like Tara, 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.

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).

But numbers only tell part of the story. To put a face on the many people who visit Polk Street by bicycle, we’ll be featuring profiles of members–like Tara–who have written in to support a bright future for Polk Street. Want to share your own story about why Polk improvements are important to you? Email Neal@sfbike.org.

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