Cyclists and transit advocates have lengthy sought security enhancements on Valencia Road, a serious north-south route by way of the Mission District that’s been identified to have greater charges of significant or deadly collisions. However earlier than they’re even completed, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Company’s new center-striped bike lanes have some bike riders begging for another.
Since development started on a bikeway down the middle of Valencia Road between fifteenth and twenty third streets a pair months in the past, there have been at the least two reported bike owner crashes associated to the set up in progress. Vehicles, meant to be separated from the center, have continued to drive down the center lane, barreling by way of the freshly put in buffers.
Though signage directs cyclists to make use of the total vehicular lane till development is full, many select to trip down the unfinished bikeways, that are separated by rubber curbs, to keep away from automobiles and all the strain that may include them.
To forestall severe accidents—or worse—different cyclists are avoiding Valencia altogether.
“I’ve seen almost all the pieces that might go fallacious, go fallacious,” stated Luke Bornheimer, a transportation activist behind Higher Valencia, which opposed the design earlier than it was permitted. “I don’t suppose there’s any salvaging this.”
The transit company permitted the controversial design in April as a pilot by way of October 2024. By transferring bike lanes from between the parking and driving lanes to the center of the road, the company stated it would roughly double the variety of loading areas on the nightlife- and retail-heavy Valencia. Beforehand, the closely used avenue had seen quite a lot of double-parking in any respect hours.
The mission additionally decreased the variety of basic parking areas by about roughly one-fifth whereas creating 40 new metered parking areas on facet streets.
General, the redesign was meant to make the realm safer for cyclists and pedestrians. From January 2018 to December 2022, there have been 132 collisions inflicting accidents on that stretch of Valencia Road. In January, a driver fatally struck a girl whereas turning left on sixteenth and Valencia. Cyclists make up 45% of all collisions within the space on account of unsafe turning, lane adjustments and automobile passengers opening doorways that cyclists can crash into, based on the SFMTA.
For this reason cyclists have sought a protected bike lane alongside the curb, which was as soon as proposed for Valencia between nineteenth Road and Cesar Chavez Road however not introduced as an choice to the SFMTA Board of Administrators.
Although the mission is a pilot, cyclists like Bornheimer worry that the longer the design is in use, the probability will increase that folks will get critically harm or killed.
Whereas neighborhood bike owner Parker Day thinks it will likely be safer for cyclists as soon as development is full, he agrees with Bornheimer that the ultimate outcome might be worse than what got here earlier than. He has additionally known as into query the design and reasoning behind it.
Whereas automobiles can simply jump over the brand new curbs, cyclists could merely crash. Additional, there are solely restricted areas for cyclists to enter and exit. Spacing is particularly tight for bikes with cargo, akin to dad and mom using with youngsters seated behind them, Day added.
“Individuals are going to hit that curb, they usually’re going to fall, and I hope they don’t get harm and run over when it occurs,” Day stated. “It’s the one possibility SFMTA was keen to attempt. I do not perceive how the MTA might’ve determined that is higher.”
The transit company stated workers reached out to transit businesses in Washington, D.C., and New York, which have center-running bikeways, for steerage and greatest practices. Spokesperson Stephen Chun stated SFMTA is conscious of two collisions within the bikeway, certainly one of which the San Francisco Police Division confirmed to the company.
“The SFMTA proposed this configuration as a result of it was one of the best design various out there, given the bodily and contextual circumstances and constraints alongside the hall,’” Chun stated. “SFMTA will proceed implementation, and as soon as the pilot formally begins, we’ll consider the design and make design revisions as wanted.”