This article first appeared in the Winter 2015 edition of our quarterly magazine, the Tube Times. For this story and more, download the Winter 2015 PDF.
When we dug out the very first Tube Times, then titled the ‘Tubular Times,’ from October 1990, we found a prescient quote from then-president of the Board of Supervisors, Harry Britt.
“Keep getting cyclists down [to City Hall] and that will result in significant changes,” said Britt.
He was right. Today, thanks to the tireless advocacy of people who believe that San Francisco should be safe and welcoming to people on bikes, we are seeing the significant changes Britt promised.
But ‘significant’ is an understatement. Transformative might be a better word. Each victory, no matter how small – a strip of paint for a basic bike lane here, a bike corral there – is adding up to something huge. Together, the countless changes we have won together are remaking our city.
There are moments from the past decades we will never forget. Like in 1999, when the Valencia Street bike lane opened despite a then-director at the SF Department of Parking and Traffic stating it would happen over “my dead body.” Or in 2010 when we helped paint the first bike box – the green area behind a crosswalk for people on bikes to wait – after the nearly four-year-long bike injunction was lifted. We’re looking forward to other equally memorable moments in the years to come, including the first ride on the Embarcadero two-way protected cycle track or the first morning of car-free Market Street.
When the fledgling San Francisco Bicycle Coalition celebrated the opening of the first bike lane in the City in 1971 (on Lake Street), we could have hardly imagined what would be happening in 2015. You don’t have to look far to find transformation happening before your very eyes, and there’s much more on the way!
WHAT’S COMING YOUR WAY IN 2015:
FELL & OAK STREETS – We’ve been waiting for the SF Municipal Transportation Agency to fulfill their promise of a physically-separated bikeway on Fell and Oak for more than a year. Finally, in early 2015, the SFMTA and Department of Public Works have promised to implement beautiful new planted medians like the ones on lower Polk Street. These will create permanent, physical protection on one of the city’s busiest bikeways.
HOWARD STREET – Look for an improved buffered bike lane on Howard Street between 6th and 10th Streets in the first quarter of 2015. This bike lane will mirror its “partner lane” on Folsom, with more green paint, buffers, and protective soft hit posts near the intersections. We will continue to advocate for a buffered bike lane the full length of Howard Street, but in the meantime we hope you enjoy the improved ride from 6th to 10th.
VALENCIA GATEWAY – San Francisco’s first raised cycle track will be coming in early spring to a block at the Valencia and Tiffany
Street intersection. Raised cycle tracks elevate bike lanes so that they sit between the height of the sidewalk and the height of the roadway, which improves safety for people on bikes by vertically separating you from the roadway. This will hopefully be the first of many raised cycle tracks you’ll see throughout the city.
MARKET STREET RAISED CYCLE TRACK – Following on the heels of Valencia Street, Market Street will also be getting its own raised cycle track between 12th and Gough Streets. This is one of the City’s official Vision Zero projects being implemented on our most used bikeway. This project will both improve your commute and help others see how protected bikeways improve life for all of us, whether we’re walking, biking, taking transit, or driving.
SAFER MARKET STREET – After years (decades!) of advocacy for a truly safer Market Street, the City has committed to prioritizing transit- first by extending the private auto restrictions this spring. These important safety changes will limit turns onto Market Street and require private automobiles to turn off of Market Street in a few key places, making it safer and more predictable for everyone.
FOLSOM & ESSEX STREETS – This tricky intersection has been making us nervous for awhile, and the SFMTA is finally moving forward with plans to put in physical protection during the first half of 2015. As more San Franciscans take advantage of Folsom’s wide, green bike lanes, making sure the entire corridor is safe is even more critical. This intersection improvement will include new green paint, physical protection, and a safer crossing under the freeway ramp.
POTRERO AVENUE – Construction on Potrero Avenue has already begun. Much like Cesar Chavez, this project will touch on all parts of the street, and we are looking forward to the new protected bike lane, pedestrian improvements, and better transit service that will come with this finished project. Construction is expected to take up to a year, so be patient while your street gets better.
MASONIC AVENUE – This is a huge, comprehensive street revisioning project – the kind we want to see across the city. Masonic Avenue has historically been one of the most dangerous streets in the city, but streetscape improvements will go a long ways towards making the street and neighborhood corridor safer and more welcoming to all. Construction is expected to take a year, but start getting excited about this beautiful new raised, separated bikeway.
THE WIGGLE – A major set of improvements are coming to one of San Francisco’s most iconic bikeways, including enhanced crosswalks, diversion of non-neighborhood traffic to other streets, and improved protections for people on bikes, all coming in 2015. The project comes out of environmental review in mid-2015, and we’ll be pushing the SFMTA to move quickly to fund construction.
POLK STREET – One of our city’s critical north-south bike connections is also a high-injury corridor. With our members’ help, we are working hard to improve the SFMTA’s sub-par plans for changes and to make sure that the new plan goes a lot further in protecting people walking and biking.
There are even more projects in the works for next year, but these 10 projects exemplify something we’re particularly excited about: a real commitment to bikeways that go beyond the bare minimum, so that we truly move toward completing a comfortably connected bike network for everyone in San Francisco. Hang in there during construction as we gear up for the fantastic biking that has yet to come.
POLK STREET: Help us make Polk safe! With a new District 3 Supervisor coming onboard, now is the time to make your voice heard. Sign up for updates, or volunteer to help with outreach.
VISION ZERO: Join our campaign to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries on our streets by 2024.
MASONIC AVENUE: Construction of a new and much-improved Masonic Avenue will start later this year. We’ll be working to be sure this complete streets project comes to life as planned. Join our campaign today!