Our members and community stakeholders won a major victory for protected bike lanes in the Tenderloin this week. At the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) board meeting on Tuesday, the decision was unanimous: Protected bike lanes are approved for Turk Street from Market to Polk, closing a gap in the bike network.
This crucial safety project, which will be the first protected bike lane in the Tenderloin, has seen its fair share of ups and downs. In April of last year, the SFMTA presented a plan for paint-only bike lanes on Turk, a design we saw fail on the adjacent Golden Gate Avenue. Bolstered by the community’s demands for effective safety improvements, we opposed a bike lane for the first time in our organization’s history.
What does more look like in this case, though? The Tenderloin is a dense neighborhood with often competing needs from residents, service providers and emergency responders, and Turk’s new design will balance these priorities all while providing a safe, protected space for people riding.
The approved plans include a curbside bike lane on the left side of the street. This configuration keeps people riding separated from moving vehicles and vehicles loading goods and passengers. The left-running bike lane also helps avoid conflicts with Muni vehicles and their overhead wires, which run on top of the right side of Turk. A row of soft hit posts and a 10-foot buffer zone gives ample space for the bike lane and deters cars from entering. A 10-foot buffer is much wider than usual in order to provide space for passenger loading and deliveries for the businesses along Turk.
A significant amount of traffic calming also accompanies the bike lane in this project. Stretches of Turk Street that now have three lanes will be reduced to two narrower lanes, slowing vehicle speeds down significantly to make this dense neighborhood much more welcoming to people biking and walking.
“I won’t have to actively go out of my way to go home,” SF Bicycle Coalition member and Tenderloin resident Mary Kay Chin said. “Now there’s a direct and safe route for me to ride on.”
Construction is set to begin as soon as next month, depending on weather, and will last a couple of months.
This unprecedented victory for safe streets in San Francisco and the Tenderloin neighborhood would not have been possible without our members. Please consider joining the SF Bicycle Coalition as a member to help drive our future efforts for protected bike lanes like this one citywide.