Polk Street, or the Case of the Missing Bicycle Crashes

For the past couple of years, a frequent talking point of the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has been: “One person biking is hit by a car each month on Polk Street”.

But what if this number — which is already much too high — is actually higher?  

While numbers reflecting one collision per month may have been true in the past, more recent data from the SF Police Department (publicly accessible through California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System) indicates that there were at least 149 bicycle-related collisions between November 2006 and December 2014 in the Polk Street project area currently being considered for safety improvements.

That’s 1.5 collisions per month. What’s worse, the number of bike crashes surged in 2013 to 26, or an average of about 2.2 collisions per month. Analysis also suggests that these collisions are increasing north of Pine Street, making Broadway/Polk the most dangerous block in the corridor. That means Polk Street, particularly north of Pine Street, is becoming more dangerous every year for people biking.

We already knew Polk Street is one of the city’s most dangerous and most traveled routes for people on bikes — and that it is in critical need of safety improvements. But these new numbers make it clear that the SFMTA proposed designs, which only include protected bikes lanes for 25% of the total project length, do not go far enough to make Polk Street safe.

Your SF Bicycle Coalition believes that the people these numbers represent matter. We urge the SFMTA Board of Directors to use all available data in their decision next week and request a data-driven design for Polk that makes this important street safe and inviting for everyone. Let’s have a plan for Polk that fully supports the SFMTA’s Vision Zero objective of eliminating all traffic deaths and severe injuries by 2024..

Help Us Speak Out for a Truly Safe Polk Street:

  • Attend next week’s SFMTA Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, March 3 from 3pm at City Hall, Room 400 and share your reasons for a safe Polk Street directly with the SFMTA Board of Directors.
  • Email your comments using our template to the SFMTA Board of Directors and tell them you want a data-driven design for Polk Street that achieves the highest bar for safety for all.

Attend the SFMTA March 3 Meeting

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