San Francisco is expanding its bike network with more protected lanes to keep bicyclists safe from vehicles.
At a hearing last Thursday at the Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Service Committee, transit officials updated supervisors on bike projects the transit agency is working on and safety measures at two different locations in San Francisco where two bicyclists were hit and killed on June 22 within hours of each other.
Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents District 6, said The City has a responsibility to make sure that streets are safe for everyone:
“…We have a responsibility to those who live, work and commuter in our district and throughout The City to ensure we are doing everything that we can to make our streets safe.”
One of the two bicyclists killed on June 22, Katherine Slattery, was hit by a vehicle while on her bike on 7th and Howard streets in Kim’s district.
Heather Miller was the other bicyclist struck and killed by a vehicle on the same day, while riding on JFK Drive inside Golden Gate Park.
Kim said she understands the frustration from residents that — despite The City adopting the Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024 — people are still getting killed on the streets:
“And so the question becomes what are we doing and are we working with the urgency that we need to take to truly address the matter.”
Officials from the Municipal Transportation Agency offered an update on current projects that near completion or have begun construction.
SFMTA’s Director of Sustainable Streets Tom Maguire said the transit agency believes everyone from eight to eighty years old should be able to ride bikes safely in San Francisco, but added that The City is not there yet:
“The tragic deaths that occurred within a few hours of each other on June 22, Heather Miller and Kate Slattery remind us that we’re not there yet. We have a long way to go.”
Luis Montoya from the transit agency’s Livable Streets said the SFMTA will hold a public hearing on Sept. 16 to propose 10 speed humps along JFK Drive. Data from the transit agency shows that drivers are exceeding the speed limit from between seven to nine miles per hour during the daytime.
Montoya said the transit agency is working on larger study at reducing speeds inside the park.
Another part of The City with a troubling number of collisions is 7th and 8th streets between Market and Folsom streets.
Montoya said the 7th and 8th Streets Safety Project is on its way with a community outreach meeting on Sept. 22. The project includes a protected bike lane along with painted safety zones and traffic single upgrade. Construction for the project will start Spring 2017.
Masonic Avenue is getting a protected bike lane, along with Second Street downtown. The Masonic Avenue project broke ground this year, and work on the Second Street project will start in early 2017, said Montoya.
A map from the transit agency shows seven miles of protected bike lane designs are complete, with another eight miles still in the design phase.
Maguire said some safety measures are part of other projects, such as utility or repayment work, or sometimes both, which may take the projects longer to complete.
Besides the ongoing engineering projects, the transit agency recently launched a new anti=speeding radio ad. The new ads, which launched last month, will play on radio stations that air traffic reports as part of the The City’s education component of Vision Zero.
Montoya said engineering, education and enforcement play an important role in reducing traffic fatalities in The City:
“Through the conjunction of engineering, education and enforcement, that holistic approach, that is really gonna get us to eliminating traffic fatalities in San Francisco.”
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. He covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent over a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a native in the city and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Email tips to [email protected]
Correction: The Masonic bike lanes will be raised but not protected (apart from when the lane runs behind bus stops). Unprotected bike lanes on an arterial with this many lanes and with cars going at the speeds they do was not the best option when it comes to bicycling safety.