Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Parking Places vs. Bikepaths on Polk Street



Tuesday afternoon, businesses along upper Polk north of California Street were featuring SAVE POLK STREET flyers in their windows, decrying the "radical agenda of the SFMTA." Their concern is with the transportation agency's plan for a demonstration project this summer where curbside parking is to be eliminated in favor of dedicated bike lanes in both directions. According to the Save Polk Street website, the eventual plan is to remove parking along 20 blocks, from McAllister Street to Union Street, and local businesses are livid. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition announced three "separated bikeway" pilot projects on their website last October, to take place on 2nd Street, the Embarcadero and Polk.
Your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has been active in instituting pilots all across the city...Pilots allow people to sample a design idea, to understand how it works, and for the City to evaluate what’s working or not — without making expensive or permanent changes. These pilots whet the public’s appetite for innovative projects, while making your ride safer.

Three pilots — on 2nd Street, Polk Street and the Embarcadero — are poised to help both refine the design of separated bikeways and also help educate San Franciscans, most of whom have never experienced one, about their benefits. And it’s all happening over the next year.

Your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is working with local landscape architects and designers, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, Department of Public Works and other agencies to help develop and pilot three demonstration blocks over the next year that include the next generation of bikeways. For all these projects, the demonstration block(s) will be a key step towards building a permanent, full and successful project.




A neighborhood informational meeting will take place on Monday, March 18th at 6PM at the It's A Grind coffeehouse at Washington and Polk. As somebody who doesn't drive either a car or bike, I am watching the controversy with detached interest. Personally, I would love to see a few major roadways closed to both cars and bicycles, with public transport and pedestrians given pride of place, but that seems unlikely in this lifetime. In the meantime, pedestrians in the Civic Center have the dual challenge of dodging cars making right turns on red lights at crosswalks and helmeted bicyclists tearing down sidewalks at ridiculous speeds. I am not sure which group frightens me more these days.

6 comments:

susoyev said...

Thanks for a great blog, Mr. Strickland. You make an excellent point concerning safety. As a daily cyclist, I see cyclist-generated dangers (almost) as often as motorist-generated ones. The SF Bicycle Coalition has begun to address the need for safety training for cyclists, not only demands for safe driving.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear susoyev: From a serious cyclist like yourself, that's high praise indeed. My friend Sidney Chen showed up last year at my apartment black and blue, and I figured he'd been run over by a car as a bicyclist. Nope, it was another cyclist who managed to crash into him. Good luck out there.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Nice one, Mike. I'm with you on the hazards of both cyclists and drivers.

sfphoneguy said...

..and let's not forget the ever-increasing population of awareness-impaired pedestrians who are blinded by staring at their cell phones and simultaneously deafened by their headsets while crossing streets already made perilous by flustered drivers and rogue cyclists! Quite a circus out there...Darwin might be chuckling in his grave....

Michael Strickland said...

Dear sfphoneguy: The oblivious, plugged-in pedestrians don't particularly bother me because at least they are not going to cause me any serious harm other than being clueless and mildly annoying. Fast-moving metal vehicles are another story altogether.

nancy namaste said...

Great column and a thoughtful bunch of comments. I wish that more cyclists were aware of us slow moving pedestrians as I have had to jump into doorways on several occasions to keep from being mowed down by bikes on the sidewalk. I also wish that the mostly young bike riders would realize that not everbody can ride a bike. I help carry bags and do the shopping for a friend who has degenerative disc disease; several times we have had bike ridrs bang on the car as they zoomed by. I don't know why because J is a very careful driver. Maybe we just annoyed them by being in a metal machine. But not everybody can ride a bike, you know?