Creatively Designing the Embarcadero Bikeway

Designing an iconic boulevard like the Embarcadero is no simple feat. This three-mile stretch of waterfront stretching from AT&T Park to Fisherman’s Wharf has a long history of accommodating many modes of travel, dating back to horse-drawn wagons, to State Belt freight trains, to the Embarcadero Freeway, and, now, to the thousands of people who visit the waterfront every day by bike.

A photo of the Ferry Building in 1940 with State Belt freight trains passing. (Photo credit:

A photo of the Ferry Building in 1940 with State Belt freight trains passing (Photo credit:

As part of the Embarcadero Enhancement Project, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency has been leading a year-long planning process to envision the details of a protected bikeway along the entire length of the Embarcadero. But instead of starting with the transportation planners and engineers, they first worked with the community through a series of workshops held in November. The participants, which included many of our own members, came up with innovative and fascinating ideas for how to both build a bikeway and how to improve the needs for pedestrians, pedicabs, deliveries, taxis and more.

Breakout groups worked on designing the bikeway at different pinch points along the Embarcadero by using a “gameboard.”

The second workshop focused on the central portion of the Embarcadero, during which many groups entertained the idea of transforming the entire bayside portion of the roadway into large pedestrian plazas with a wide two-way protected bikeway and limited vehicle access for Port tenants and delivery vehicles. Other workshops had greater challenges when dealing with extremely limited road space and the constraint of keeping the Muni rails and boarding islands in place.

We applaud the SFMTA’s creative brainstorming that also helps the public understand both the challenges and opportunities this project presents. They will take these ideas through more technical analysis and plan on holding an open house in the early spring to present their findings. Sign up for campaign updates today to get involved!

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