San Francisco transportation planners are reviewing eight of The City’s major bicycling trouble zones, areas that advocacy groups have been clamoring to fix for years.
Any changes, however, are still more than a year off.
The Municipal Transportation Agency will use $186,100 from Proposition K — a half-cent transportation sales tax voters approved in 2003 — to help plan and design eight bicycling improvement projects on Cesar Chavez Street, Division Street, Holloway Avenue, Lee Avenue, Masonic Avenue, Portola Drive, Potrero Avenue and Sagamore Street.
Those roads have long been sources of contention between vehicles and pedestrians and bike riders. Pedestrian and bicycle activists say the street designs encourage speeding and reckless driving and want more bike lanes, fewer vehicle lanes and improved crosswalks.
“Adding bike lanes tends to have a traffic-calming affect, which means drivers are driving slower and have greater reaction time,” said Manish Champsee, of Walk SF, a pedestrian-advocacy group.
The City, however, is restricted from striping new bicycle lanes, constructing new bicycle racks and allowing bicycles on Muni trains. A group called the Coalition for Adequate Review won a preliminary injunction a year ago blocking San Francisco’s bicycle plan, citing the California Environmental Quality Act that requires public projects to undergo a review if they might alter traffic, noise and business.
“They can move forward with their planning, but they can’t make any changes to the hardscape, can’t take away street parking and traffic lanes until the environmental review is done,” said Rob Anderson, a member of the coalition.
The Municipal Transportation Agency continues to include bicycles as part of its commitment to multi-modal transportation planning, MTA spokeswoman Maggie Lynch said.
Andy Thornley, program director at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the environmental review will analyze The City’s entire bicycle network — about 200 miles of paths and dedicated lanes for bicyclists — and 60 specific bicycle improvement projects. The eight projects that recently received funding are the largest of the group.
“Those are the ones that I think will take the most time in terms of planning and engineering,” Thornley said. “If anything, this is the silver lining to this whole business of the injunction. We’re going to get several years of bicycle-network planning done very quickly.”
Fran Taylor, a member of the C.C. Puede neighborhood group that organized two years ago to advocate for a more pedestrian-friendly Cesar Chavez thoroughfare, said she would like to see fewer vehicle lanes, more left-turn pockets and wider sidewalks on the busy road.
“The speed limit is 25 mph, but I regularly see drivers going over 30,” Taylor said. “The bike lanes are part of the project, but they’re not an end of themselves. We want to have as much information as possible.”