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.