Parking-protected curbside bike lanes are coming to Valencia Street

Staff of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) presented their conceptual designs to their Board of Directors on Tuesday, June 18. This was the culmination of months of outreach following the February SFMTA Board of Directors hearing, where staff were directed to continue evaluating the center-running bike lane pilot while also preparing to pivot to curbside-running lanes.

Your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition was in attendance on Tuesday and gave public comment in support of the conceptual design. Based on extensive feedback from our membership, we feel strongly that the parking-protected curbside lanes are predictable and familiar, and we applaud the intersection treatments that the conceptual design would introduce, such as state-mandated daylighting and protected intersections. As we said in our public comment, these intersection treatments must have the most robust materials a quick-build can allow, to discourage people driving from dangerously cutting the corner. 

We also called for the SFMTA to remove floating parklets from the design altogether, and keep all parklets against the curb. Having the lane sometimes run between the curb and a parklet introduces potentially dangerous conflicts between people biking and staff and customers who use the parklets. And the proposed mix of curbside and floating parklets is unpredictable and confusing, making the design unsafe.

After robust public comment from our members and members of the public, a majority of those who spoke agreed that Valencia must maintain separated, protected infrastructure for people on bikes while also preserving the vibrancy and circulation along the corridor. Several people spoke favorably about the center-running design, which speaks to how the separated infrastructure, though not perfect, was an improvement on unprotected paint-only bike lanes that existed prior to the pilot. 

The SFMTA Board began their discussion, adding resolutions to strengthen the commitment to supporting merchants and the commercial vitality of the street, while also directing staff to create a thoughtful construction plan that minimizes disruption and impact to businesses or the safety of people using the street. 

Following discussion, the Board voted unanimously to endorse the conceptual design and adopt the amended resolution. This is a huge next step for the future of the corridor, and our motivating goal of a vibrant, and safe, Valencia Street. And now that it’s approved, the SFMTA project team will move into the detailed design phase before presenting it for approval to the Board, likely in the fall.

We plan to keep working with the SFMTA, our members and the merchant community to continue strengthening safety improvements in that final design phase, such as protected turns, consistent street paint, and signal phasing. We also will be pushing for the longest possible leading pedestrian intervals, seven seconds, and signage clarifying that people on bikes are permitted under state law to go with a pedestrian walk signal.

This conceptual design should not be the final evolution, either. We called on the SFMTA to see through the Long-Term Valencia Bikeway studies and implement pedestrianized pilot blocks, so we can imagine the kind of world-class, people-centered destination that Valencia could truly become.

Finally, we want to once more thank the staff of the SFMTA’s Livable Streets team, who spent countless hours going block by block to talk to merchants, and worked late to present to our members. Their efforts to help everyone be heard and to foster understanding are commendable.

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