Quick build a protected bike lane network in San Francisco

Quick build a protected bike lane network in San Francisco

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SFMTA Needs to Rush-Build a True Network of Protected Bike Lanes

A truly usable network of protected bike lanes, that will make all potential cyclists feel safe riding, must stretch uninterrupted, clear across San Francisco. If we want to effectively encourage San Franciscans to take more trips by bike and fewer by car, then clearly we need to set up a protected bike lane network that provides a protected bike lane within one mile of every person and a network of lanes that considers equity in providing good options in underserved areas. In other words, the city needs a protected bike lane network that provides complete, end-to-end, protected routes, not a patchwork of disconnected segments in just a few parts of the city.

While it is great for us to push for a particular lane here or there such as on the Embarcadero and on Valencia, what we really need is these lanes as part of a comprehensive network. Let's ask for what we really need, the whole connected network. 

Take a look at the map in this column to see a picture of what a minimal protected bike lane network map could look like, with additional protected routes in orange, to enable cyclists (and riders on electric-assist bikes) to really get around the city safely and confidently by bike. Sadly the current SFMTA rough plans are only the blue routes on the map. But with your support we know they can do better and quickly designate the orange routes from the map above as well. 

SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin stated recently that we can’t move more cars in the space we have, calling it a fundamental geometrical limit. However, as the lockdown is lifted, many Muni riders, afraid of contracting the virus on public transit, will start driving. Yikes! Great organizations like the Bike Match Network are helping to get free bikes to essential workers and continued work-from-home will relieve some pressure on our streets, but as Tumlin put it, “…if San Francisco retreats in a fear-based way to private cars, the city dies with that, including the economy. Why? Because we can’t move more cars.”

But we can move more bicycles.

And it’s imperative that we do so, by quickly building a network of protected bike routes with rows of parked cars and/or Jersey barriers. And it is essential that these new lanes include protected intersections. As San Jose has shown, both protected bike lanes and intersections can be installed cheaply and quickly, in months not years. San Francisco’s ‘slow streets’ program also gives a hint as to how quickly streets can change, with the right sense of urgency and political will.

Even if COVID-19 magically disappeared tomorrow, city budgets are already decimated. And the damage from climate change leaves our future still hanging in the balance. We must quickly build the low-cost infrastructure required to enable and entice more people to make their trips by bike. It’s time to install a comprehensive, contiguous network of protected bike lanes that serves all of San Francisco. More info here including great maps showing what the network could be and contrasting it with related maps. Join us! We can do this with your support.