America's Cup races not limiting bike access

Beth Laberge/Special to the S.F. ExaminerSpace race: A lane on The Embarcadero will be reserved for cyclists during October’s America’s Cup races.

Cyclists will have a lot more room to maneuver on The Embarcadero for America’s Cup events next month.
A long segment of the lane closest to the waterfront will be set aside solely for bikes during the weekend of Oct. 6 and 7, the date set for the next round of preliminary races in the sailing regatta.

To avoid conflicts with local businesses, which use The Embarcadero for service deliveries, the bike lane will likely not open up until 10 a.m. for both days, according to Jane Sullivan of The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The City is still determining the lane’s exact route, Sullivan said, but it likely will run just north of the Ferry Building to Fisherman’s Wharf. Cyclists will only be allowed to travel toward the event, she said. Because The City is expecting two massive cruise ships to arrive at Pier 35 that weekend, the lane will detour onto Bay Street and then North Point Street, she said.

Depending on the success of the pilot project, the dedicated lane could become a more permanent fixture next summer, when the main event of the regatta takes place. The project has already received environmental clearance as part of the People’s Plan, an America’s Cup transportation proposal overseen by various agencies.

Kit Hodge, deputy director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has long supported a dedicated bike lane for the area, said the proposal is an “incredibly common-sense measure.”

With large crowds expected for the America’s Cup, conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists on The Embarcadero promenade will be difficult to avoid, Hodge said. Carving out a traffic lane for cyclists will allow more people to access Fisherman’s Wharf and the shore through The Embarcadero, she said.

But not everyone is thrilled with the idea of removing a lane of traffic on The Embarcadero, which is already plagued with congestion problems.

“I think it’s a terrible idea,” said Mac Liebert, manager at Pier 23, a bar and restaurant on The Embarcadero. “With all the construction going down here, traffic is bad enough. Now you’re going to see cars backed up past Market Street.”

Improved biking conditions are a major aspect of the People’s Plan, a series of comprehensive transportation guidelines intended to increase access to the America’s Cup. A bike-sharing network — where cyclists could pick up and drop off two-wheelers at select locations — was originally intended to be in place for this summer’s preliminary races, but  delays in negotiations have pushed back the start of that program to next spring.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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