The SFMTA has been studying the effectiveness of a short stretch of raised bike lane on Market Street, and has just released their results on the experiment.
Raised bike lanes are a popular tactic used by other cities to separate cars and bikes as they travel along the same city street. The bike lanes should discourage people from driving in them, but still allow emergency vehicles access. Cyclists should be able to enter and exit the raised bike lane safely at any point.
Taking into account other cities’ designs, the SFMTA installed four options in one short stretch: a wide mountable curb, a mountable curb, a mountable curb near sidewalk level, and a vertical curb.
While acknowledging that no option is perfect, the SFMTA determined that a combination of options C and D are the winning design. “Based on the evaluation, for busy commercial streets like Market we recommend a bikeway design that’s level with the sidewalk (similar to that in option C), has a vertical curb (as used in option D) and includes buffer areas between both the traffic lane and the sidewalk,” wrote SFMTA’s Aaron Bialick.
But for Market Street, which has a multitude of different types of transit running along its road, soft-hit posts were needed to prevent vehicles from parking on the raised bike lane. “Mountable curbs, which are angled so vehicles can roll up them if necessary, tend not to be effective deterrents to illegal parking in commercial areas,” Bialick pointed out. Green paint can also help differentiate bike lanes from the rest of the street.
More bike lanes incorporating this design may be considered down the line for the Market Street corridor as part of the Better Market Street Project. But for now, the small stretch of raised bike lane on Market near 12th Street is the only one bike commuters can expect to cruise down when heading downtown to work.