The City of San Francisco has committed to rethinking the way it commutes on a daily basis. Several factors including public demand, economic pressures, and forward-thinking have come together to create a sort of city planning revolution in San Francisco culminating with the adoption of Vision Zero policies and practices aimed at eliminating all traffic deaths in the city. A massive portion of that overall plan is dedicated to road improvements for cyclists in San Francisco. In fact, as more and more people use bicycles as an everyday mode of transportation, the city has openly committed to massive reengineering projects designed to improve traffic flow and cyclists and pedestrian safety.
There are over 30 bike lane infrastructure projects in the planning, pre-construction, or construction phases in San Francisco right now. In fact, last year alone the city overhauled 53 miles of roadway. But there’s more work to do. Below are the top 5 road improvements for cyclist in San Francisco that bikers of all stripes can look forward to in the very near future.
1) Market Street Improvements
Market Street is really the primary bicyclist’s highway in San Francisco. In fact, with thousands of riders converging on Market Street every day, the street now sees more commuters on bicycles than it does in cars. However, Market Street—partly because of this congestion—has long been one of the most dangerous streets for cyclists and pedestrians. Thankfully the city has noted the danger and there are multiple improvement projects already in progress along the worst stretches of the street.
Better Market Street – This city-run program includes re-paving and implementation of one of three potential bicycle improvement plans (one of which includes a separate bikeway).
Safer Market Street – This plan proposed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition includes traffic management and safety improvements on Market Street between Third and Eighth Streets—the section formerly home to four of the deadliest intersections in San Francisco.
San Francisco is also experimenting with a stretch of Raised Bike Lane along Market Street. If this pilot program proves beneficial it’s likely that riders will see more of these raised bike lanes throughout the high-traffic areas of the city. In fact, plans have already been fronted for similar improvements to Polk Street, Masonic Avenue, and Second Street.
2) The Wiggle
This relatively flat stretch of paved road between Duboche Park and the Panhandle circumvents some of San Francisco’s steepest hills. The improvement plan proposed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition was approved unanimously by the SFMTA and includes a traffic diverter at Scott and Fell Streets as well as numerous “traffic-calming measures” that will improve safety and accessibility along this stretch of road for cyclists.
3) The Mansell Streetscape Improvement Project
Mansell Street is a notoriously dangerous “cross-town freeway” dreamed up in the 1950s. The street currently has four lanes of motorized traffic, no pedestrian walkways and no designated bike lane. In 2010 the departments of Public Works, Park Department, and the Municipal Transportation Agency came together to create a revamped Mansell Street between Visitacion Avenue and Brazil Avenue. The approved plan will decrease the number of traffic lanes to two, decrease the posted speed limit, create a designated pedestrian walkway, and add a Class I Bike Path. The project is expected to be completed by fall of 2016.
4) Second Street Streetscape Project
Second Street was identified as a primary pedestrian and cyclist thoroughfare and “green connector” by the East SOMA Area Plan. As such, the streetscape improvement project will rebuild the street to allow dedicated space for cyclists along the stretch of Second Street between King and Market Streets as well as the addition of special crosswalks, designated pedestrian refuges, and new infill street trees. Green “sharrows” have already been installed in advance of the total revamp scheduled for 2016.
5) Masonic Streetscape Project
Masonic Avenue has long held the title of one of the most dangerous streets in San Francisco but changes are coming on fast. Masonic Avenue will soon have 1.3 miles of raised bike lane. In addition, a wider sidewalk is planned with crosswalk bulb outs to improve pedestrian safety. [I personally can’t wait for this one, as it is an integral part of my commute.]
Any Road Improvements for Cyclist in San Francisco Are Welcome
As a San Francisco bicycle accident attorney I see the danger that cyclists put themselves in every day. While the number of people on bicycles in San Francisco has dramatically increased over the years (up 14% since 2011 by some counts) so has the number of accidents. Many of these bicycle accidents in San Francisco are caused by distracted drivers but outdated street designs contribute to a significant number as well. Therefore, I see any potential road improvements for cyclists in San Francisco as a good thing. Going forward it’s not hard to envision a future where (at least in certain parts of the city) cyclists will rule the roads. So putting infrastructure changes in place today can only benefit San Francisco cyclists tomorrow.