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Bike Coalition calls out SFMTA over delays of protected bike lanes on Market Street

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Cyclists ride down an unprotected bike lane on Market Street between Duboce and Octavia streets in San Francisco, Calif. Monday, March 6, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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Bicycle advocates are upset that proposed protected bike lanes on upper Market Street have not only been delayed by San Francisco officials, but quietly removed from the approvals process altogether.

In an open letter sent Monday afternoon, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition calls out the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for such concerns.

“On behalf of the over 10,000 members of the SF Bicycle Coalition, we write to strongly urge you and your agency to seek approvals and implement protected bike lanes on Upper Market Street,” Brian Wiedenmeier, the bike coalition’s executive director, wrote to SFMTA Director of Transit Ed Reiskin.

Wiedenmeier said the two blocks of protected bike lanes from Duboce Avenue to Octavia Street were removed from consideration as part of the Upper Market Safety Project, which went before SFMTA’s regular Engineer Public Hearing on Friday.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who oversees the district where the protected lanes would be built, told the San Francisco Examiner he was confused about the delay.

“People have been planning this for several years,” Sheehy said. “It has the support of the district, it’s not clear why it’s not moving forward.”

He said he was “drafting something right now” to communicate the district’s desire for SFMTA to move forward.

In response to questions about delays about the protected bikeways, SFMTA spokesperson Ben Jose said the agency is working to address concerns of the Fire Department.

“Our engineering and planning staff professionally represent, defend and incorporate the concerns of the SFFD in all our street designs,” Jose said in a statement. “Our two agencies needed more time to assess the proposed designs together.”

Jose emphasized that the protected bike lanes are part of a suite of other enhancements to upper Market Street which are moving forward, including pedestrian-safe concrete bulbouts, green bike lanes, enhancements to Muni boarding islands, bike boxes and improved intersection wayfinding and guidance markings.

Notably, Wiedenmeier wrote in his open letter that protected lanes are part of Mayor Ed Lee’s call to make The City safer for cyclists.

The mayor’s newfound urgency on bike safety came after the death of two women cyclists last June. The following August, Lee issued an executive directive and said “all infrastructure implemented on the city-designated high-injury network be the highest achievable quality, including Class IV protected bike lanes.”

The City’s high injury network is a series of streets identified as the most dangerous and likely to see traffic collisions leading to injury and death.

Wiedenmeier cited that passage of the mayor’s directive when writing to Reiskin.

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