Making San Francisco Safer for People On Bikes
Since 2006, the number of trips taken by bicycle in San Francisco has nearly tripled. This is good for our planet, good for our public health, and good for alleviating traffic on our streets. Some consider bicycling an “alternative” mode of transportation, but it should not be considered alternative. It should be an easy choice for getting around in our City, and we need to do more to make that a reality.
Today is Bike to Work Day, which I celebrated by riding an electric bike to City Hall along the new protected bike lane on Valencia Street. Last September, I directed the SFMTA to expedite the creation of this protected lane, which like too many of our safety improvement projects, was stuck in our bureaucratic process. Today, the thousands of riders who use the Valencia Street bike lane are protected from car traffic for many of the most dangerous blocks on that stretch.
Unfortunately, too many of our streets remain dangerous for bicyclists, which leaves people who do choose to ride at-risk. It also discourages countless others from choosing to take a bike or scooter, which leads to increased car trips.
We need to make bicycling a safer, more viable choice for our residents, and this starts with expanding our network of protected bike lanes and keeping our current bike lanes clear. That’s why I am directing the SFMTA to double our production of protected bike lanes over the next two years and increase enforcement of violations related to blocking bike lanes.
We need a more connected network of bike lanes in the City. In order to do that we need to create more bike lanes, and create them more quickly. By doubling our annual production of new bike lanes, we can create 20 new miles of protected lanes over the next two years, which will better connect our existing lanes. The increased production will be possible in part due to the steps I proposed to streamline the process of new bike lane creation, which I announced in March and will be heard by the SFMTA Board of Directors later this month.
Additionally, I have asked the SFMTA to increase citations related to blocked bike lanes by 10% over the next six months, beginning immediately, which would bring the total annual number of citations up to roughly 30,000 per year. Our enforcement resources are limited and this effort will be guided by our 311 data. This is an important step because too often we see bicyclists forced into traffic as a result of people parked illegally in the bike lane, and we need to reinforce that this is not only against the law, it is dangerous and unacceptable.
Earlier this week, the SFMTA released an evaluation of street safety improvements, showing the benefits of improved infrastructure programs in San Francisco. Of bicyclists who were surveyed on the new Folsom Street, 83% reported increased comfort after the completion of the project. Turk Street saw a 287% increase in bike counts following a bike lane being installed. Additionally, many projects helped slow traffic, such as an observed 18% decrease in vehicle speeds on Vicente Street following the introduction of new bike lanes and speed humps. We know these improvements work and we need them implemented more quickly.
Improving our transportation infrastructure reduces car trips, helps us reach our carbon emission reduction goals, is healthier for our residents, and saves lives. Too often in the past we have been slow to make these common sense improvements to our streets. I am not content with business as usual. San Francisco deserves to be a great bicycling city where every day is Bike to Work Day. One step towards that reality is building more protected bike lanes and I am committed to making that happen.