Polk Street is a critical connection for people going across the city from north to south. It’s one of the flattest, most direct ways for San Franciscans to get across their city by bike. That why it’s a fundamental part of the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Connecting the City campaign to make San Francisco safe and accessible for all of us.
Polk is also one of the top five most dangerous streets in San Francisco for people biking, and 60% of people surveyed by the SFMTA in 2013 want to see big safety improvements on Polk Street. We know that continuous and physically protected bikeways are the best way to tame unsafe corridors, and make them safer and more attractive for all of us, whether we’re walking, biking, taking transit, or even driving, and Polk needs these kinds of safety improvements.
Earlier in 2014, we won a huge victory when the three lower blocks of Polk Street gained a protected green contraflow bikeway, recently named America’s best new bikeway of 2014. If you ride along these three blocks, you’ll get a taste of what a truly great bike lane is all about – protected, separated, comfortable and safe.
But Polk Street is much longer than three blocks, and the rest of a Polk Street ride remains an example of traffic chaos and dangers for all road users. Upcoming decisions by the City are a chance to win the comprehensive improvements we need.
While the current City proposal for improving Polk Street north of City Hall includes some positive elements, there is a lot of opportunity to make Polk Street even safer, particularly north of California Street. The final design for the Polk Streetscape Project needs to go farther to keep people safe, and show demonstrate Polk Street’s potential to be the vibrant, safe, attractive street its residents deserve. We hope that when the final design is presented to the SFMTA Board early in 2015, the design will something we all can get behind, but this will require support from our members, Polk Street neighbors and community groups like Folks for Polks and the Vision Zero Coalition.
Help us make sure that the final design for Polk Street includes protected bikeways and much-needed pedestrian improvements from Union to McAllister by speaking up and volunteering between now and the end of January. Join our Polk Street campaign list for updates, and if you’re a member, volunteer today to help make Polk Street safe for everyone!