Mayor Breed to ‘double’ pace of bike lane production, step-up enforcement

People who ride bicycles may be popping wheelies after Mayor London Breed’s Thursday announcement:

More bike lanes are coming to San Francisco, at “double” the pace of original plans.

Breed is tasking The City’s transit agency to build out 20 miles of protected bike lanes in just two years.

And in a boon to frustrated cyclists, Breed asked city agencies to increase citations of bike lane-blocking drivers by 10 percent.

That means more tickets for drivers who swing into green lanes, a problem many have publicly said is caused by two types of drivers: Uber and Lyft drivers trying to pick up passengers, and those in trucks delivering goods at nearby businesses.

“Since 2006, bicycling in San Francisco has almost tripled,” Breed said in a statement Thursday. “As our city continues to grow, we know we need more protected bike lanes, not only to keep people safe but also to encourage more people to bike in the City and reduce congestion.”

While there has long been a push by people who bike for more protected bike lanes — meaning bike lanes with a physical barrier between traffic and riders — the death of Tess Rothstein, 30, on Howard Street in March intensified the pressure. Her death spurred groups like People Protected Bike Lanes to stage protests along streets without bike lanes, placing their bodies where they believed bike lanes should be to save lives.

The new goal Breed set would effectively double the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s pace of building bike lanes. In 2017-2018, SFMTA built protected bike lanes at a pace of just over 5 miles per year, according to The Mayor’s Office. The mayor’s announcement came on Bike to Work Day.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Director Brian Wiedenmeier lauded her goals.

“On San Francisco’s biggest biking day of the year, Mayor Breed has issued a bold challenge to the SFMTA to quickly close the gaps in our citywide protected bike lane network,” Wiedenmeier said, in a statement. “Building out our infrastructure is the best way to improve safety and make it easier for people to bike to work, school or wherever they may need to go.”

Breed said the increased pace will be possible if the SFMTA Board of Directors commits to her “efforts to streamline the process to deliver safety projects,” which she announced in March.

The SFMTA announced its own measures to beef up street safety for all traffic users, from pedestrians to drivers and also cyclists on Tuesday. One of those proposals includes beefing up its own construction staff, so that the agency can build out its own bike lanes without relying on outside contractors or other city agencies.

As for ticketing, the SFMTA reported roughly 27,000 citations for infractions related to blocking bike lanes in the second half of 2018. Breed tasked SFMTA with increasing those citations by ten percent in the next six months based on 311 data. Ticketing scofflaw drivers and parkers is the realm of both the Department of Parking and Traffic and the San Francisco Police Department, which will see a boost in its Traffic Company ranks after more training classes were called for by Supervisors Sandra Fewer and Rafael Mandelman.

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