Cyclists cross Masonic Street through the Panhandle bike path along Fell Street on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Cyclists cross Masonic Street through the Panhandle bike path along Fell Street on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Work to begin on temporary Fell Street bike lane

New pathway expected to be ready for use in early August

Panhandle pathways may soon be much more conducive to social distancing, thanks to a long-awaited temporary protected bike lane on Fell Street that’s been green-lit after being held up in the permitting process since May.

The approximately one-mile bike lane will run directly alongside the Panhandle between Baker Street and Shrader Street. It will reduce the current number of car travel lanes from four to three by shifting the existing parking lane over to occupy the lane closest to the park.

Preston Kilgore, a legislative aid for Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the area, said this proposal was a direct emergency response to overcrowding on the Panhandle since the start of the shelter-in-place order in March.

“Fell and Oak have both been talked about forever,” he added, so Preston’s office was able to draw on existing ideas from previous campaigns for the emergency response project and others to allow for quicker implementation.

Westbound riders will be protected by plastic posts dividing the bikeway from the street, and eastbound cyclists will continue to share paths within the park’s interior with pedestrians.

Urged by Preston, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency first proposed the bikeway in May with construction anticipated to begin in June. However, weeks passed with no changes to Fell.

A July 6 tweet said staff was “working to get the necessary project approvals, including addressing emergency access challenges.” The message provided a long-awaited update, but it also bolstered reports the bikeway was being delayed by the San Francisco Fire Department, the agency largely responsible for evaluating how street changes impact emergency access.

“Look, we’re happy this bike lane is going in. For years we’ve been advocating for it, and with the pandemic, the need is greater than ever. But we’re not happy that it took this long,” said Kristen Leckie, a community organizer with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “We’re frustrated that the SF Fire Department keeps holding up projects that have immediate safety and health impacts like this and Tenderloin Slow Streets. We’re thankful for Supervisor Dean Preston for working with us to keep this moving and push it forward.”

Fire Department officials told the Examiner on Tuesday that the Fell Street bike lane had been approved, but declined to provide further comment.

According to the statement from Preston’s office, the SFMTA will be closely monitoring traffic volumes and speeds as well as emergency response access. Additionally, the transit agency will consult with SFFD after one-month of the pilot program’s operation.

Preston’s office, which will be in “constant contact” with SFMTA and SFFD about the project’s efficacy, also reiterated the bikeway is a pilot program. Any permanent changes to Fell Street, including establishing a bike lane, would need to go through the proper approval channels with SFMTA and the Transportation Advisory Staff Committee, its statement said.

Bay Area Newssan francisco newsTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Advocates with the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition hold a rally outside City Hall before the Board of Supervisors were to vote on a resolution supporting the creation of a public banking charter on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Should San Francisco run its own public bank? The debate returns

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum was building for San Francisco to… Continue reading

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite, a hyper-sensitive angle measuring device, for apprentices Daniel Rivas, left, Ivan Aguilar, right, and Quetzalcoatl Orta, far right, at the Ironworkers Local Union 377 training center in Benicia on June 10, 2021. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
California’s affordable housing crisis: Are labor union requirements in the way?

By Manuela Tobias CalMatters California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that… Continue reading

People fish at a dock at Islais Creek Park on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What Islais Creek tells us about rising sea levels in San Francisco

Islais Creek is an unassuming waterway along San Francisco’s eastern industrial shoreline,… Continue reading

Organizer Jas Florentino, left, explains the figures which represent 350 kidnapped Africans first sold as slaves in the United States in 1619 in sculptor Dana King’s “Monumental Reckoning.” The installation is in the space of the former Francis Scott Key monument in Golden Gate Park. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What a reparations program would look like in The City

‘If there’s any place we can do it, it’s San Francisco’

Officer Joel Babbs, pictured at a protest outside the Hall of Justice in 2017, is representing himself in an unusually public police misconduct matter. <ins>(Courtesy Bay City News)</ins>
The strange and troubling story of Joel Babbs: What it tells us about the SFPD

The bizarre and troubling career of a whistle-blowing San Francisco police officer… Continue reading

Most Read