Dozens of San Francisco bike safety advocates lined up as a human barrier along The Embarcadero Monday night to protect bicyclists from vehicles.
The rally calling for a protected bikeway for cyclists came one day ahead of a Tuesday meeting where San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency planners will present to the Port Commission a quick-build proposal to increase traffic safety in the area.
City data indicates the Embarcadero corridor has experienced 242 traffic injuries and two fatalities between 2014 and 2019.
One fatality was pedicab driver Kevin Manning who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2018.
Advocates stood along together just outside of the bikeway near the Waterbar restaurant — a problematic spot where cars are often valet parked in the designated bike lane in front of the restaurant.
A police officer on his motorcycle arrived during the rally to tell advocates they could not stand in the roadway and moved them a few feet away near the San Francisco Fire Department’s Station 35.
Despite being moved, the group’s message was clear with signs that read:
“Protected Bike Lanes Save Lives.”
SFMTA planners will present a “quick-build proposal” that would install a physically protected two-way bikeway from Folsom to Mission streets on the Embarcadero in the northbound direction. The street safety changes are part of a longer-term plan called The Embarcadero Enhancement Project.
They expect to complete the project by summer of this year.
The proposal is part of the SFMTA’s plan to quickly install pedestrian and bike improvements without the lengthy approval process. The quick-build policy was in response to Mayor London Breed’s call for quick action to improve street safety.
Casey Hildreth, a senior transit planner with the SFMTA, said during a board meeting last week that the agency plans to address the valet service parking as part of the quick-build proposal.
According to a memo issued by the Port, Executive Director Elaine Forbes has already asked the transit agency to look into extending the protected bikeway one block further to address the valet service issue.
Matt Brezina, a People Protected Bike Lane organizer, said the group Monday night was demanding better safety for cyclists who ride near the busy Embarcadero.
“We’re here because Embarcadero is one of the most deadly streets in San Francisco. Kevin Manning was killed biking on the street. People are injured on the street riding bikes and walking because its designed like a highway.”
The Port Commission reserves the right to make the final decision on street changes.