First Steps to Implement SF Bike Plan
(December 3, 2009)
Mayor Gavin Newsom today joined with other elected officials, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and members of the bicycle community to announce the first steps to implement the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. On Wednesday, November 25, the Superior Court partially lifted an injunction that has since 2006 prevented almost all physical improvements to San Francisco's bicycle network.
"Today we celebrate the beginning of better bicycling in San Francisco," said Mayor Gavin Newsom. "We're not all the way there yet, but these improvements, combined with the ones we hope to see next year when the injunction is lifted completely will help San Francisco create a world-class bicycle network."
This past Tuesday, SFMTA paint crews completed the first bicycle lane to be striped in San Francisco since May 2006. The new bike lane, on Scott Street between Fell and Oak Streets, improves the bicycle route know as the "Wiggle," which guides bicyclists along the flattest streets from mid-Market to the Panhandle. In addition to the new lane, crews have installed nine new bicycle racks on the Wiggle and added numerous sharrows, the bicyclist pavement stencils pioneered in San Francisco that remind motorists to share the lane and help keep bicyclists away from opening doors of parked cars.
As part of today's celebration Mayor Newsom and other participants painted what is believed to be the first green 'bike box' in California on Scott Street at Oak Street. The bike box provides a separate, protected place for bicyclists to stop in advance of the intersection. This green bike box is a trial expected to last at least six months.
"This work to implement the Bike Plan is long overdue but we are very pleased to get it started,"said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Executive Director/CEO of the SFMTA, which oversees the Bicycle Plan. "These efforts will help us continue to make bicycling a safer and more attractive way to travel in San Francisco and will put us in the forefront of bicycle-friendly cities in North America."
"With the huge demand for biking improvements, we are pleased that the City is acting so quickly to get these new improvements on the ground," said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the 11,000-member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), which promotes bicycling for everyday transportation. "The City's quick response sends a clear message that City leaders want to encourage this healthy, affordable, and sustainable mode of transportation and we expect to see the numbers of people choosing to bicycle to increase dramatically."
Under the partial lifting of the injunction, 10 of the 60 bicycle lane projects can be completed. These projects add 6 miles to the City's 45-mile lane network. The full Bicycle Plan calls for a total of 34 additional miles of bicycle lanes (a 76 percent increase). In addition, the amended injunction allows the SFMTA to install additional bicycle parking and add sharrows to the network. An estimated 350 bike racks and 2000 sharrows will be implemented in the next six months.
The SFMTA is pursuing innovative approaches to better bicycling, including buffered bike lanes, colored bike lanes, bicycle-friendly traffic signal timing, separated bikeways (as in New York and Portland) and bicycle sharing. These efforts are allowed under the partial injunction.
The City will return to Court for a hearing on June 1, 2010. The plaintiffs in the bike case are challenging the adequacy of the Bike Plan's Environmental Impact Report, which was certified by the Planning Commission and upheld by the Board of Supervisors this past summer. In June of 2009, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved the Bicycle Plan as a whole and 45 of the 60 near-term bicycle lane projects.
Even while the Bicycle Plan has been under the injunction, bicycling has increased dramatically in San Francisco, rising 53 percent since 2006 according to the SFMTA's latest counts. SFMTA counts also show that bicycling along the Wiggle (measured at Fell and Scott) has increased by 85 percent since 2006.
More information on the San Francisco Bicycle Plan, including specific projects, can be found at www.sfmta.com/bikes.