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Latest San Francisco Bike Battlefront: Valencia Street

With most private auto traffic banned on Market Street in downtown, a battle is brewing in the Mission District between Valencia Street merchants, led by a bike store owner, and cyclists who support converting a bike lane into a cycletrack.
February 27, 2020, 12pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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"The owner of a 35-year-old bike shop on San Francisco’s busy Valencia Street is driving a neighborhood crusade against an unlikely enemy: the city’s plans for a protected bikeway outside his store," writes Rachel Swan, transportation reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Valencia Cyclery owner Paul Olszewski wants to torpedo the barricaded lane idea, which he says would take 14 parking spaces out of the 29 on his block, along with a center turn lane that doubles as a loading zone. He spent hours last week hoofing up and down the 2-mile artery, knocking on every merchant’s door from Market Street, on the north end, to the southern boundary at Cesar Chavez Street.

"Crusade" was an interesting choice of words for Swan to describe the bike store owner's attempt, as it would appear that the protected bike lanes (or cycletracks) are largely a done deal, with only the final design to be approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The agency held an open house and public hearing on the project, known as Valencia Bikeway Improvements, on Feb. 24.

The conventional bike lane on the northern section of the corridor has already been "successfully" redesigned as a protected bike lane for a pilot implementation for the full length of the street, according to the agency.

"The agency has already set posts along the first segment, from Market to 15th Street, and officials expect to start the southern section, from 19th Street to Cesar Chavez, as soon as next month," adds Swan. Valencia Cyclery is located on that stretch. "They would finish the final strip, from 15th Street to 19th Street, sometime next year."

Vision Zero Quick Build project

Valencia Bikeways Improvements is one of many bicycle-pedestrian infrastructure projects known as Vision Zero Quick Build, promoted by Mayor London Breed that are transforming some of the most well-traveled and dangerous streets of the city. The need for adding protection to bike lanes was tragically illustrated by the dooring death of Tess Rothstein almost a year ago. That lane is now protected thanks to the quick-build initiative.

See Roger Rudick's ongoing coverage in Streetsblog SF on transforming Valencia Street, including:

Terminology

Protected bike lane or cycletrack? An explanation from the California Bicycle Coalition, sponsor of the Separated Bikeways Act (AB 1193) of 2014 (see related post):

Is there a difference between separated bikeways and protected bike lanes and cycle tracks?

No. These are different words for the same thing. The law refers to “separated bikeways” to make it clear that these facilities are not the same as bike lanes that cyclists are required to use when present. Nevertheless, “protected bike lane” is the term that the public best understands.

Related in Planetizen on protected bike lanes in San Francisco:

And on Valencia Street:

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 in San Francisco Chronicle
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