Last week, hundreds of our members made the message loud and clear to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency: We need protected bike lanes on Townsend now. Their reply? It’ll happen, but in the next five years.
Sadly, these delays are nothing new. For years, we’ve know that Townsend presents some of the most difficult conditions for people riding in San Francisco. Video from 2015 might as well have been filmed yesterday, clearly demonstrating the obstacles that people biking Townsend face daily.
After nearly 200 emails flooded the inbox of SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, we forced a response from SFMTA staff. Despite being fully aware of the unsafe and unwelcome conditions on Townsend, the SFMTA is opting to pass the buck on Townsend yet again by citing construction and cost. They are now pushing the project out to be a part of a bigger rail project “expected to break ground within the next five years.”
What they failed to mention in their reply, however, is how a lack of interagency coordination has led to these issues tanking a project that should have been in the ground years ago. Last year, we called on former Mayor Lee to fast-track Townsend protected bike lanes in the face of these delays. Five years more is an unacceptable amount of time to wait for improvements that should have been in the ground yesterday.
While the SFMTA has “committed to exploring near-term treatments,” we need to ensure that that exploration becomes a reality. Protected bike lanes on Townsend need to be built, not explored. Write Director Reiskin and let him know that Townsend can’t wait.