A bouquet of flowers sits in a traffic cone as the group People Protected form a protected bike lane along Howard Street at First Street on Friday March 15, 2019, one week after the death of cyclist Tess Rothstein nearby. Rothstein’s death prompted a push for improved safety measures in the area. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Funding approved to protect Howard Street bike lanes near site of cyclist’s death

Safe-hit posts to be installed from Third Street to waterfront by midyear

Money will soon flow to pay for the completion of a protected bike lane along a dangerous stretch of Howard Street in the South of Market neighborhood.

Tess Rothstein, 30, of Berkeley, was struck and killed by a truck driver on Howard and Sixth streets in early March, kicking off an effort to make that stretch of road safe for bicyclists.

But while the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency moved with speed to add “safe-hit” posts along the bike lane between Fourth and Sixth streets to block cars from swinging into the bike lane, the agency has yet to add them from Third Street to the waterfront.

Now $390,000 has been approved by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, a separate entity from SFMTA, to finish the project.

“I’m of course very supportive of the funds for the design and buildout,” Supervisor Matt Haney said at the transportation authority’s regular meeting on Tuesday, shortly before voting to approve the funding.

Haney not only represents the neighborhood where Rothstein was killed, but like all of the Board of Supervisors he sits on the transportation authority board, which disburses funding to transportation projects throughout The City.

The SFMTA staffer leading the Howard Street protected bike lane project, Matt Lasky, said the agency will have the safe-hit posts and painted bike lane complete by “midyear.”

“That’s our goal,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting. “This is really a quick build for us. It’s paint and post.”

The Howard Street protected bike lane is one of SFMTA’s “quick-build” projects, intended to make a street safer in a temporary fashion while permanent, more robust changes are planned for the future.

Not everyone was pleased with the speed at which SFMTA took action.

Charles Deffarges, senior community organizer with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, chastised SFMTA for taking too long to implement physical barriers along the street.

“Even a year seems excessive for this project that we know is so crucial to our bicycle network,” Deffarges said.

He noted the installation was still slow despite overwhelming support for the project from Haney, and from Mayor London Breed, who recently tasked the SFMTA with doubling the pace of installing bike lanes, from ten miles to twenty miles in two years.

“If we can’t do it on Howard faster than a year, I wonder where we can do it?” Defarrges said.

Posts have also yet to be added between Third and Fourth streets, but those are already funded and approved and will be installed after construction outside Moscone Center is complete, according to SFMTA.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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