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

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Saturday, July 22, 2023
SF's new bike lane faces mixed reviews from cyclists, drivers
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San Francisco Valencia Street bike lane is facing mixed reviews from cyclists and drivers but will it actually be safer?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's still under construction but the Valencia Street bike lane is already being used and the reviews are mixed.

"I don't love it. I think it's a mild improvement from just being in the roads with cars, but I think it's still pretty unsafe and it's going to lead to more injuries for people getting caught in the sides," said Lizzie Gorman, a San Francisco cyclist.

"I just entered it for the first time ever. I think that it's pretty cool down the middle," said Ryan Field a cyclist visiting from Hawaii.

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"It's like cross-overs. It's going to be dangerous for the bicyclists and I can't turn left on Valencia anymore. Except at the very end which is what I'm doing," said Willie Swynertin a San Francisco resident who was driving on Valencia.

The Valencia Street bikeway currently runs from 15th Street to 23rd Street. The construction signs are up because SFMTA is still working on it. Lizzie Gorman uses the bike lane five days a week and says there is not much protection on the sides to prevent drivers from breaking the rules.

"Just coming up here a car did a U-turn across it," said Gorman.

Some cyclists would like the rubber dividers to be brighter.

"They could be a brighter color so the cars would see them, but I don't like when the big trucks come over and they are loading. I thought that would be fixed, but I do love it," said Mari Tilos a cyclist in San Francisco.

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This is a pilot project so SFMTA has a year to evaluate the functionality and design. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition says there are some positives, but the project still needs work.

"It's different. It's not something that San Francisco has ever had. However," said Janelle Wong executive director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Wong described the rollout of the project as "sloppy at best and said there have been several accidents already."

"The number I have heard in terms of crashes related to the bike lane have been four. Yes, we understand that's not a pleasant experience however we still believe the pilot is safer than what was there," said Wong.

The bike lane has been under construction for the last six to eight weeks.

Luke Bornheimer is a sustainable transportation advocate who wants the intersection crossings to be revised.

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"There are two crossings at 15 and 23rd streets where people on bikes have to cross in the middle of the intersection into the center bike lane. Not only is the center bike lane kind of dangerous but these crossings are particularly dangerous," said Bornheimer.

Bornheimer pointed to the previous bike lane design as a better choice, "There's another part of Valencia Street that actually has a curbside protected bike lane. That is proven to be exponentially safer."

According to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition SFMTA is projecting to finish construction sometime next month. Once it's finalized the city has 12 months to evaluate their designs, hear from the community, make changes and decide if the changes work and should be permanent.

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