Group reprises protest at Arco gas station

August 20, 2010 3:36:39 PM PDT
Calls from cyclists for a safer network of bike lanes in San Francisco have intensified following the death of a German tourist who was killed a week ago after he was struck by a vehicle traveling on Masonic Avenue.

Tonight, protesters plan to return to the Arco station at Fell and Divisadero streets - blocks from where 21-year-old Nils Linke was killed on Aug. 13 - for the 11th consecutive week to demand that San Francisco prioritize the safety of all road users.

Protest organizers, part of the group Fix Fell, claim that recent improvements to the bike lane along Fell Street are not enough to change the behavior of drivers accessing the gas station.

A conflict exists between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists because of vehicles queuing up for gasoline that block the driveway, bicycle lane and pedestrian crosswalk along Fell Street.

On Aug. 3, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency installed a green bike lane on Fell Street between Scott and Divisadero streets, which is a section of the heavily traveled bike route known as "The Wiggle," popular for its hill-avoiding zigs and zags.

"We're happy that the city is apparently paying attention to our protests and trying something, but hopefully they'll make it even better," protest organizer Stuart Matthews said.

Despite the focus on this particular intersection, Matthews said that he and his small group of protesters hope to raise awareness and eventually link up with other groups advocating for a re-engineering and re-envisioning of city streets.

"More long term, we'd like to see the city reprioritize Fell Street as a whole," Matthews said. "We want safety of all road users to be the top concern, we want to see a re-engineering of Fell Street to its original two-way configuration."

In the meantime, the group is calling for the city to reclaim the curbs along Fell Street from the gas station, which it says the city's Department of Public Works has the power to do.

But the city's largest bike advocacy group, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said that removing the driveways along Fell Street has not been considered as part of its long-term vision for the corridor.

"What we're seeing is that the green (bike lane) seems to really be making a difference," said Renee Rivera, interim executive director of the bike coalition. "It looks like cars are really observing the bike space much more."

Instead, the bike coalition prefers to examine that stretch of bike lane on Fell Street in its entirety, from Scott Street to the entrance of the Panhandle at Baker Street.

"It's about getting a real separated bikeway along that corridor, not just for that one corner where there's been challenges," Rivera said.

The protest is scheduled to take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Arco gas station on the corner of Fell and Divisadero streets.


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