Complete Streets Deferred, but (Nearly) Underway

Editors: This story was originally published in Issue 157 of our quarterly Tube Times magazine, one of many perks of membership in the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Once planned to begin construction earlier this year, complete streets redesigns are underway – or nearly so – across San Francisco.

Masonic Avenue

Construction began this August as part of the Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project, transforming a street with fast-moving traffic and a history of collisions into a welcoming, neighborhood boulevard. The improvements planned include widening sidewalks, connecting the Panhandle to Geary Boulevard with a raised bike lane, and nearly doubling the street trees with a new landscaped median.

When the San Francisco Board of Supervisors first approved the complete redesign of Masonic Avenue, the three districts touching Masonic Avenue were represented by Supervisors Jake McGoldrick, Michela Alioto-Pier and Ross Mirkarimi. The year was 2008.

The City’s culture of delay repeatedly slowed progress, but now, following eight years of activism and neighborhood watchdogging, construction on Masonic’s redesign is finally underway. Construction is scheduled to last 18 months.

The slow progress on Masonic has demonstrated once again the need for the community to come together to guarantee that safety improvements are approved and then enacted. By acting together, we can ensure that the City feels the weight of an activist community and knows that delays are unacceptable. This collective pressure on the City informs our work not only on the extremely important Executive Directive issued by Mayor Ed Lee in the wake of the tragic events of June 22, but also in regards to other complete streets projects presently underway.

We’ve learned a few lessons watching the delays on Masonic, and don’t want the same fate of inaction for Polk Street and Second Street. We plan to hold the City accountable to its current timelines to see these dangerous streets similarly transformed after enduring years of planning and approval processes.

Polk Street

The debate over whether to bring life-saving safety improvements to Polk Street spanned two and one-half years. The result was a victory for safe streets advocates: Raised bike lanes were approved along a significant stretch of Polk, but not the entirety of the corridor.

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Polk Street is set to break ground this fall. Following a substantial construction period delivered in multiple phases, we’re looking forward to riding a new Polk Street that’s welcoming to everyone.

Second Street

In SoMa, another important commercial corridor is preparing for construction. The ambitious plans to connect Market Street to King Street via raised bike lanes along the entirety of Second Street were approved in August of 2015 and scheduled for construction by the end of 2016. Unfortunately, the timeline has shifted and groundbreaking is not expected until the first half of 2017. Once complete, Second Street will be a model for people-first public spaces in a neighborhood surrounded by fast-moving traffic and dangerous corridors.

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Every victory for more bikeable, livable streets – from planning to approval to construction – depends on the collective power of San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members. Together, we will watch these projects and hold the City accountable.

On every single street campaign, the people of San Francisco depend on a team of advocates connecting community members with opportunities to demand change and hold the City responsible. That’s why your membership in the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is so important: Together, we can accomplish more than any of us could ever dream of achieving alone.

Help us ensure these streets become a reality. Give a friend or loved one a gift membership today at sfbike.org/join.

The Tube Times is published quarterly as one of the many benefits to members of the SF Bicycle Coalition. For a complete list of membership benefits, or to join/renew today, click here.

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