Six months into the Mid-Valencia Pilot, what’s next?

On Tuesday, February 20th, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) staff presented their three-month evaluation data of the Mid-Valencia Pilot to the SFMTA Board of Directors, and we were on hand to provide public comment and represent the position of our membership. 

Many of us know and love Valencia Street. In the past six months, we’ve seen news outlets cover the controversial bike lane from many perspectives, but with little to no data. Tuesday was the first time SFMTA publicly presented any kind of analysis on the center-running bike lane. 

In the weeks before the hearing, we sought direction from our members on how the pilot is going and what should happen next. We distributed a member-only survey about the pilot and received over 1200 responses in a week; we also hosted an in-person member meeting on February 13 to share our preliminary survey results and help refine our stance.

Here are key takeaways from the survey and member meeting we hosted:

  • Our members generally feel safe riding in the center-running bike lane (CRBL) and agree it’s an improvement from the previous unprotected design. 
  • The biggest issues for people on bikes are needing sturdier materials, feeling unsafe using the bike boxes, and drivers making illegal turns.
  • One of the top three reasons our members use the CRBL is to visit businesses. They generally support small businesses along Valencia Street, want to see them succeed, and have many ideas of how to better support them. 
  • Lastly, the largest percentage of respondents prefer protected side-running bike lanes with curbside parklets as the near-term design.

These results helped us shape our position, which is the following:

  1. Iterate the design as was promised by staff and the board last April, and keep it in place for the full 12 months of the original pilot period 
  2. Simultaneously, complete draft plans for protected side-running bike lanes
  3. Once the pilot is over, immediately install side-running bike lanes with curbside parklets, unless comfort and safety significantly improve to warrant keeping the CRBL

The hearing was productive and proactive; thanks to the SFMTA Board and staff, as well as dozens of advocates and stakeholders who showed up to give public comment. Although this was an informational item, the MTA Board approved a motion with clear next steps for staff.

First, they directed staff to take immediate steps to correct new collision factors like illegal u-turns and left turns, reduce conflict and confusion by improving bike boxes, and solve mid-block accessibility to businesses.

They also directed staff to develop a design for protected side-running bike lanes by mid-2024. Noting the need for data transparency around this project, the Board also asked for staff to return with updated evaluation data and to bring back an alternative design for Board consideration and approval in 2024.

We’re glad to hear directors push SFMTA staff to make immediate and crucial safety improvements to the center-running lane as a top priority. Director Henderson said it the most clearly: “We will not compromise safety for parking and increasing vehicles on Valencia Street.”

Everyone who has shared their feedback, both with us and with the SFMTA, loves Valencia Street. We want people on active transportation to feel safe while riding, we want small businesses to thrive and we know these things can coexist. We look forward to working with our members and SFMTA to continue to advocate for immediate improvements and the long-term vision of Valencia Street.


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