SFMTA Board Votes To Move Bike Lanes To the Middle Of Valencia Street, In Meeting Interrupted By Earthquake
A real earthquake struck Tuesday just before the SFMTA Board of Directors approved a year-long pilot program to move the Valencia Street bike lane’s terrain to the middle of the road instead of the side.
“What do we do if there’s an earthquake during public comment?” asked board member Manny Yekutiel at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors meeting, when an earthquake did indeed occur during public comment. But the bigger issue is what the board was discussing; a shocking and highly controversial proposal to move Valencia Street’s cycle lanes to the center of the road, rather than their current configuration closer to the edges, between traffic lanes and parking spaces.
And the board voted unanimously in a 6-0 vote to approve a “center-driven bike lane” design that would run between 15th and 23rd Streets at Valencia Street (seen above in blue), in a temporary pilot program that will to be reassessed after one year.
If you’ve ever seen the Valencia Street bike lanes, you’ve probably seen cars in the Valencia Street bike lanes. The chart above illustrates that and other problems. The center bike lane is a design that supporters say could reduce the number of double-parked cars blocking bike access to those lanes. This new design also claims to be a Vision Zero-ey move that would increase safety and reduce crashes.
And as seen above, there will be slightly different configurations for the bike lanes between 15th and 19th Streets and between 19th and 23rd Streets.
There are obvious concerns about the plastic bike lane barriers used to secure these lanes (they’re called “bollards”), and one commenter pointed to the image above showing that these don’t match cars. As the Examiner explained before the vote, “Bike lanes are protected by temporary plastic bollards. Each bike lane is six feet wide, supported by a two-foot buffer lane between it and the car traffic lanes.
A ton of cyclists provided public comments both for and against the year-long pilot of this design, and this community is clearly torn about the now-approved proposal. But given the unanimous 6-0 vote, the SFMTA board is clearly less conflicted about it.
“I was there when everyone was shocked and horrified when the Van Ness BRT went downtown from the side,” board member Gwyneth Borden said before the vote. “But it works.”
Related: Stanley Roberts takes parking in the bike lane on Valencia Street [SFist]
Image: Google Street View