At the beginning of May, dozens of people attended the SFMTA Board meeting in support of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s push for protected bike lanes on Upper Market. Good news: it worked! 

The decision to make changes to this area was a few years in the making. After several community meetings and an open letter to the Director of the SFMTA Ed Reiskin, the pleas of the many, including cyclists who specifically ride this route, were heard. 

Following over 300 letters of support, the Board unanimously approved the plan to improve this high-injury corridor. The newly approved project will feature protected bike lanes in both directions from Octavia to Duboce; a landscaped median, an improved bike crossing at Octavia, and pedestrian safety islands are expected to be implemented by the end of this year.

These changes are made with cyclists in mind, but it really comes as a win for everyone — pedestrians, cyclists, cars, buses — pretty much anyone coexisting and navigating through this confusing danger zone. 

The protected lanes also help to address the area’s ongoing issue of double parking in bike lanes. While cycling, I was hit by an illegally parked Uber on the lower part of Market Street. When I tried to pass his stopped car that was in the bike lane, the driver saw a police car approaching his illegally parked vehicle and, to avoid the potential ticket, quickly turned into my path. They ended up with me on top of his car, plus a ticket. That’s just one story. There are unfortunately many more with more lethal outcomes.

The interactive version of this map can be found here.

Just look at this map provided by Vision Zero SF. Though it resembles a Muni map, with Market Street highlighted in red, it’s not. Instead, it’s a map of where the most people are hurt or killed while biking in San Francisco. The dark red lines are the areas with the most injuries reported.

The City and County of San Francisco adopted Vision Zero as a policy in 2014. The policy originated in Sweden, and has since been adopted by other cities across the United States. Vision Zero is committed to building better and safer streets and adopting policy changes that will stop preventable deaths.

According to Vision Zero SF, about 30 people lose their lives and over 200 more are seriously injured every year while traveling on San Francisco streets, either as cyclists or pedestrians.

Two-way Protected Bike Lanes

Changes to traffic flow is leaving some residents and local business owners with furrowed brows. While safety remains priority #1, questions on how the lanes might block driveways and delivery trucks remain a real concern. The proposed solution? Two-way protected bike lanes

Be on the lookout for more two-way protected bike lanes to come. This solution keeps the bike traffic to one side and ideally limits the way the lanes might impede on other forms of traffic. The first two-way protected bike lane in San Francisco was constructed in 2012 on Cargo Way, in a mostly industrial area. City staff are now considering two-way protected bike lanes for other streets including Townsend, the Embarcadero, and both Folsom and Howard.

While the Bike Coalition’s wish list of changes might remain a long one, they are steadily checking off items and trying to keep friends at the same time. So while there’s still much to do, it’s worth it to take a second to celebrate the Upper Market victory, and keep your eyes on the road!

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Photograph by Jay Ann Leyson

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