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

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024
SFMTA looks to get controversial center bike lane alternative approved
San Francisco is considering a replacement for a center bike lane that's been blamed for hurting businesses on Valencia Street.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is considering a replacement for a center bike lane that's been blamed for hurting businesses on Valencia Street.

SFMTA is now looking to get a side-running bike lane approved by the city's transportation board, and two concepts are up for consideration.

"We have heard that it's not working for people. So on Tuesday, we will be presenting an alternative side running protective bike lane," said Viktoriya Wise, Chief of Staff SFMTA.

RELATED: Officials consider design change of SF's controversial Valencia St. bike lane after evaluation

SFMTA is now proposing to remove the center bike lane and relocate bike traffic to the side of the road.

"It's a long time overdue but I'm glad to see them doing that," said Sustainable Transportation advocate Luke Bornheimer.

One design would force cyclists to ride around restaurant parklets -- closer to traffic.

The other would have cyclists ride between the curb and the parklets.

It's unclear which design will be considered by the board.

Bornheimer is a proponent of the curb-side parklet design. He views the "floating parklet" design as unsafe.

"The floating parklets while in theory seemed like a good idea, they actually increase conflicts so people coming in and out of the parklets are more likely to get hit by someone riding a bike or a scooter and people who are riding bikes and scooters in the bikeway have to think about if someone is going to hop in and out of the parklet while they are riding," said Bornheimer.

RELATED: SF restaurant owners say Valencia St. will 'die' if controversial bike lane is not revised

San Francisco restaurant owners say the Valencia Street bike lane is driving away customers and business as there is no space left to park.

SFMTA is planning to hear from businesses before the next pivot.

"Is going to be a mix. If you as a merchant want to choose to keep your parklet at the curb you can do that, and we will slalom the bike lane around your parklet. If you would like it to move your parklet into a floating configuration and some merchants may choose to do that because it provides more parking in front of their business then we will work with them," said Wise.

Nikki DeWald is the owner of Blondie's Bar. She blames the center bike lane for killing multiple businesses on her street.

"North Beach, Clement, the Marina they are all thriving and none of them have a bike lane. We have a bike lane and the month the construction started made Valencia Street die," said DeWald.

DeWald doesn't want the bike lane on Valencia St. and instead wants the city to create a bike network through neighborhoods and not commercial corridors.

"If there was a bike network connecting all of the neighborhoods where you could actually get on your bike and go through the entire city safely, I'm all for that. I would love for that to happen," said DeWald.

RELATED: SF delays action on controversial bike lane despite many reporting it's 'killing' business

In February ABC7 News interviewed Luis Rodriguez owner of Los Amigos Restaurant. He blamed the center bike lane for the decline in business.

Luz Pena: "So financially how are you doing?"

Luis Rodriguez: "It's a good question. We are so behind in everything."

Fast forward four months later Los Amigos Restaurant closed its doors.

The side bike lane concept is expected to be discussed at the next board meeting on June 18.

SFMTA is not projected to remove the center bike lane this year. The earliest they could potentially start the process will be the beginning of 2025.

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