PRESS RELEASE: Polk Street Bikeway Ribbon-Cutting and Ride Tomorrow

Tomorrow, May 2, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Supervisor Jane Kim and other City and community leaders will kick off Bike Month with the opening of the beautiful new Polk Street contraflow bikeway.

Media and public are invited to join the ribbon-cutting and participate in the inaugural ride on this gorgeous new bikeway. Those who do not have their own bikes can easily borrow a bike from the Bay Area Bike Share pod next to event. The ribbon-cutting, press conference and group ride will begin at 11:00 am at Fox Plaza, on the corner of Market and Polk Streets.

The Polk Street contraflow bikeway (which means bikes ride the opposite direction of car traffic) is the first of its kind in San Francisco. Like Fell and Oak Streets and parts of Market Street, this new bikeway is physically protected, offering a barrier between people biking and driving. But the Polk bikeway stands apart from the rest in its beautiful design that integrates landscaping with succulants and rocks, beautifying the street as it also creates a safer and more comfortable bike ride for thousands of people who will use it daily. The project also includes a new bike box and bike light to enter the bikeway, as well as a new green bikeway in front of City Hall. See diagram on how to enter the bikeway below.

“The new Polk contraflow bikeway is a hallmark of complete streets that prioritizes comfort, connectivity and design. Though only a few blocks, this gorgeous bikeway offers a crucial connector between the business corridors of Market and Polk Streets, making it easier for people to get to work and shop at local businesses by bike,” said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The Polk contraflow bikeway offers a key connector between two of San Francisco’s busiest bikeways, Market and Polk Streets. According to the SFMTA’s 2013 Bicycle Count Report, Market Street has an average of 6,000 bike trips per day. Polk Street, a key North-South bikeway has seen a 38% increase in ridership since 2007. The Polk Street bikeway fills in a gap in the network.

“Our office has been advocating for this protected contralane and cycletrack since I took office in 2011,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents District 6.  “As a beginning cyclist, I directly feel the importance of having a safe path of travel between the South of Market and Civic Center neighborhoods. This safety improvement brings us one step closer to realizing our Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities within the next ten years.  I’m excited to bike the fresh green on Bike To Work Day!”

“We are pleased to expand our bike network to make getting to key city locations, like Civic Center, easier and safer,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “With more people getting on their bikes, the SFMTA is committed to providing safer and more direct bicycling connections throughout San Francisco. Potential transportation funding measures on the November 2014 ballot will empower us to deliver even more projects like these, building up to 30 miles of safer, better-defined bikeways that protect all road users. ”

Before the contra-flow bikeway was added, bicyclists either had to ride on the dangerous, high-speed corridor of Van Ness Avenue or Larkin Street. Some riders rode on the sidewalk or against Polk Street traffic, both illegal, to avoid the other unsafe options. The new Polk contraflow bikeway offers a safer connection for people biking, opens up sidewalk for pedestrians and disabled, and creates more predictability by all road users.

“Until now, the only way to bike from SoMa toward my job on upper Polk Street was roundabout and dangerous. I’m thrilled that now I can take a safe and direct route across Market Street to Polk.  The rest of Polk Street is crying out for bike lanes like this one. I hope the city moves quickly to extend this all the way up the hill,” said Shannon Dodge, mother who bikes with her 3-year-old son and will use the new Polk contraflow bikeway.

For more photos of the project, visit our Flickr Press Kit. All photos are high-resolution. Please credit San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

About the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition: With the mission of promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation, the San Francsico Bicycle Coalition works in partnership with government and community agencies to create safer streets and more livable communities for all San Franciscans. The SF Bicycle Coalition is one of the largest member-based advocacy groups in the country. 

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