Gearheads and casual cyclists alike will soon have safer options when biking in San Francisco.
More than 53 miles of safety improvements for new or existing bike lanes are planned for this year — an abundance not seen in San Francisco since 2012. Neighborhoods covered include the Richmond, Inner Richmond, North Beach, South of Market and the Mission.
“This is a lot closer to the pace The City needs to move at in order to make our streets a whole lot safer for people biking and start saving lives,” said Tyler Frisbee, policy director at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “Every time The City adds another bicycling improvement project, there are immediately jumps in ridership.”
There are at least 30 bike lane infrastructure projects in the pipeline, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages all forms of transportation in The City. The projects cover expansion of existing lanes and safety improvements, including shared bike and car lanes (called sharrows) along Second Street downtown and buffered bike lanes along Sloat Boulevard to the Great Highway in the Outer Sunset.
And even if you are not a cyclist, there is still plenty to like in these projects, as some also include pedestrian safety improvements.
Work on Masonic Avenue, for instance, will include enhanced bike lanes and could feature safer, wider sidewalks, bulb-out sidewalk corners (for better visibility when pedestrians cross the street), better lighting, new trees, and a plaza with plants and public artwork. The improvements will run on Masonic Avenue from Geary Boulevard to Fell Street and are estimated to cost $18 million, according to documents from the Department of Public Works.
Ed Reiskin, transportation director of the SFMTA, stressed the importance of the Masonic Avenue improvements, saying years ago his wife would not let him ride his bicycle along Masonic Avenue with his then-young daughter in tow because it may be unsafe.
Masonic Avenue has long been one of the most dangerous streets in San Francisco. From 2007 to 2012, according to the SFMTA, 117 people were injured and two people were killed in traffic collisions.
“It’s like a minifreeway,” Reiskin said. “It’s really uninviting [to bicyclists]. Even crossing Masonic on foot is not a great experience.”
This year’s projects are a big boost over last year, when 12 bike lane and infrastructure improvements were completed by the SFMTA. Some of the projects will be completed this month or next, according to the SFMTA, and others will take much longer.
The SFMTA said a few projects were already planned, but many are new. Three were made possible through Proposition B, which was passed in November to tie SFMTA funding to population growth.
However, the projects are not being paid for with money from Proposition A, which was also approved by voters in November. The $500 million bond will be used by the SFMTA to improve Muni and make streetscape changes.