When It Rains (Raised Bike Lanes,) It Pours

Raised bike lanes are common in great bicycling cities like Copenhagen (pictured above,) but relatively new in the United States. We’re excited that several raised bike lanes will soon be transforming these streets near you.

Why raised bike lanes?

Imagine biking on a whole different level than people driving and walking, where a full lane sits just a few inches higher than the road but slightly lower than the sidewalk. That lane clearly announces “this space is for people biking,” with a bikeable gradient replacing bollards or other barriers. These are raised bike lanes, and they’re one of our favorite kinds of protected bike lanes.

Raised bike lanes allow for specific vehicles, such as paratransit and emergency vehicles, to have temporary curb access. They are also shown to have a positive safety impact for people walking as well as people biking. What’s more, raised bike lanes are perfect for narrow streets; they can be implemented without dedicating scarce space to concrete medians or other physical barriers, making for safer and more efficient roads.

Raised Bike Lanes Coming to San Francisco

Two Blocks of Market Street

Toward the end of this year, you’ll see San Francisco’s first demonstration of a raised bike lane. This pilot project will lead the way for corridor-long raised bike lanes throughout the city, starting with the south side of Market Street (eastbound direction) between Gough and 12th Streets. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will survey riders to see what they like and don’t like about the trial, and the results will inform the design of future projects, including those discussed below

Valencia Gateway

This bike lane is part of the Mission Valencia Green Gateway project and will stretch southbound on Valencia Street from Cesar Chávez Street to Duncan Street. In addition to the raised bike lane, the final project design also includes wider sidewalks, environmentally-friendly permeable pavement and two new plazas – one at Mission and Valencia, and a smaller one at Duncan and Valencia. After some delays, work on the project is now scheduled to begin later this year, continuing through mid-2016.

Polk Street

Many readers know about the years of hard work that went into winning raised bike lanes on Polk Street. The project, as approved in early 2015, will include a raised bike lane running northbound up Polk Street, all the way from McAllister Street to Pine Street. There will also be a southbound, mostly-curbside bike lane. The project includes significant intersection improvements, along with key pedestrian safety enhancements.

Second Street

In a resounding victory for safer streets for SoMa’s residents and visitors, this summer the SFMTA finally approved the Second Street Improvement Project. The project includes raised bike lanes going both directions all the way from Market Street to King Street; sidewalk widening and raised crosswalks at alleyways; and streetscape improvements, including rain gardens and street furniture. This momentous complete streets project in SoMa is a sign that we can reclaim streets for people walking and biking in our downtown core.

Masonic Avenue

Five years ago, Nils Yannick Linke was biking on Masonic Avenue when he was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver. This tragedy spurred City approvals and funding to transform Masonic Avenue. Now slated to begin construction in January 2016 after a recent half-year delay, Masonic will boast improved intersections and raised bike lanes on both sides of the street from Fell Street to Geary Boulevard. Masonic will also have a beautiful planted median, doubling the number of existing trees along the street. The message now is loud and clear: No more delays on Masonic!

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