Eyes on the Bikeways – Market and Valencia

In 2009, with tremendous volunteer and member support, the SF Bicycle Coalition helped champion 45 projects that are now making it easier to get around the city by bike. While most of those projects were bike lanes (like Cesar Chavez Street, Illinois Street and Alemany Boulevard) some projects were designed as safety improvements at problematic intersections, like the intersection of Market and Valencia streets.

In December 2012 the SFMTA installed a left turn waiting area and bike signal at the intersection of Market and Valencia. This project gives people wanting to turn left from Market onto Valencia by bike a calmer and safer option – as opposed to cutting across two travel lanes with MUNI tracks and traffic.

We asked you, our members, how the new left-turn bay and bike signal was working, and here is what we heard:

Most people preferred the new configuration, while 29% said they preferred to change lanes earlier to make the left turn onto Valencia. We asked whether the Market Street through-lane and the waiting area to make the left turns were wide enough and most people said they were adequate (about 70% for each).

We received lots of suggestions on how to further improve the intersection design. Here are the top three suggestions, and an explanation of what the SF Bicycle Coalition will do to improve this:

Automobile drivers and bike riders that are going straight on Market sometimes do not stop at the red light causing some near misses for those using the bike signal to go left onto Valencia.

SF Bicycle Coalition: We have encouraged the SFMTA to monitor this situation and will observe behavior at this intersection ourselves if this continues to be a problem.  It often takes a few months for people to understand and adjust to new traffic changes – if you feel like the situation is not improving let us know.

The signal timing makes using the new bike signal too slow.

SF Bicycle Coalition: Thank you for this feedback – we are working with the SFMTA to see if the signal timing at the intersection can be adjusted. We expect that the wait time can be shortened a little, though it still might take a little longer to use the new signal than riding in traffic.  Fortunately – you now have another option if you don’t want to cross lanes, even if it takes a few seconds longer.

While the dimensions of the through lane and left turn waiting area feel adequate right now, what will happen as the number of people biking here increases?

SF Bicycle Coalition: Great question – as the summer approaches and more people are on bikes, we’ll be observing this intersection for capacity issues. There are options to widen or elongate the through-lane and waiting area by further narrowing the sidewalk or removing one or two trees. If these changes prove to be needed, the SF Bicycle Coalition would work with you, our members, neighboring businesses and residents and citywide advocacy groups to develop solutions to ensure safe and comfortable biking at this intersection.

We at the SF Bicycle Coalition are thrilled to see people enjoying the new facility, even as we work on making further improvements. As one survey respondent wrote, this new turn pocket and signal “Takes the stress of my whole commute away!”

Neal Patel is the Planning Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and leads our Connecting the City campaign.  Click here to find out how you can support 100 miles of crosstown bikeways in San Francisco.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Neal Patel, Planning Director for the SF Bicycle Coalition neal AT sfbike DOT org.

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