SF's bicycle network plan concerns merchants after hearing 'a lot' of parking could be removed

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Thursday, July 11, 2024
SF's bicycle network plan already concerning merchants
As San Francisco is getting closer to finalizing a citywide bicycle network, North Beach merchants are already concerned about how it would work.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is getting closer to finalizing a citywide bicycle network. Ideas about how that network would work are already creating concern among North Beach residents and merchants.

"I'm not anti bike," said Kimberly Pendleton, owner of Barbery Coast Barbershop. "I think it's great people ride bikes and use that as an alternate form of transportation, but this particular high-density area."

SFMTA presented three scenarios to a packed room of North Beach residents and business owners.

Kimberly Pendleton said many were left confused. She ended up writing a letter to SFMTA right after the meeting.

"There were several people that were asking questions that were not answered," said Pendleton.

MORE: SFMTA's newest proposal could create 'slaloming' bike lane along Valencia St.

To understand the citywide plan and what could possibly change in North Beach, we met with Christine Osorio, SFMTA's project manager for the Biking and Rolling plan.

"The Biking and Rolling plan is a community driven initiative to build a long range citywide biking and rolling network in the city," said Osorio.

SFMTA said the San Francisco Biking and Rolling Plan will replace the Citywide Bicycle Master Plan that was last updated in 2009.

"The scenarios were developed after more than 100 community discussions over the course of 18 months of outreach. They are meant to spur conversation about different ways to create a safe, connected, citywide network for people using bikes, scooters, skateboards, powerchairs and other electric mobility devices. The scenarios are not 'either or'; they are mix and match," said SFMTA via email.

Osorio broke down the three scenarios they are considering for North Beach.

MORE: Why some SF business owners are calling for Mayor Breed to fire SFMTA director

"Scenario 'A' really presents a highly protected network. These are bike lanes that are protected with permanent barriers. Some of the trade off with a network like that is that there is a lot of parking removal," said Osorio.

Removing parking to make way for a bicycle network is not what some merchants want.

"If they remove parking, that is going to be a serious issue," said Dan Macchiarini, owner of Macchiarini Creative Design.

Osorio said Scenario "B" would include minimal parking removal.

"Scenario 'B' where we bring forward painted lanes. This is less safe for people biking and rolling but we are proposing traffic calming," said Osorio.

MORE: Valencia Street update: SFMTA looks to get alternative for controversial center bike lane approved

Scenario "C" would not include a bike lane at all.

"This is our school calm zones. This is where we put together more shared roadways. It will be heavy traffic calming," said Osorio.

Hearing these plans made some merchants think of Valencia Street - an area in the city where merchants have blamed SFMTA's center bike lane for killing their businesses after parking spots were removed. SFMTA said they learned from the Valencia project.

"Valencia was a really complex project and there were really complex needs. So, we have responded accordingly but this is more of a planning effort. It's more of a long term," said Erica Kato, SFMTA spokesperson.

Despite this, merchant in North Beach want more clarity.

MORE: SF's new bike lane faces mixed reviews from cyclists, drivers but will it actually be safer?

"We do not want Columbus Avenue to turn into another Valencia Street. Stay off of Columbus Avenue that will negatively impact merchants," said Macchiarini.

We asked Osorio about Columbus Avenue.

"In one of our scenarios where we present our highly protected network, we actually don't have anything on Columbus Avenue. That is because Columbus Avenue is one of those complex corridors where there is already a lot going on," said Osorio. "There are four areas around the city that we are not able to solve right now through this plan. They are Columbus Avenue, Polk Street, Ocean Avenue and Post in Japantown."

SFMTA's plan is to continue having community meetings to hear from residents and merchants.

The team behind the network is hoping to have a set proposal by early next year.

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