To Improve 17th Street Safety, SFMTA Proposes Protected Curbside Bike Lanes

To reduce the number of bike crashes on the Muni streetcar tracks between Church and Sanchez streets, the city is offering up its preferred option: protected, curbside bike lanes on both sides of 17th Street.

Tonight, SFMTA will hold a community open house at the Mission Police Station at 630 Valencia St. to gather input on its preferred design.

SFMTA is proposing a protected curbside bike lane on both sides of 17th St. | Image: SFMTA

As we previously reported, SFMTA presented a couple of options for addressing these bike safety issues back in February. Since then, the agency has been gathering community input and analyzing the street conditions.

“SFMTA has attempted a number of solutions in the past several years, to minimize the number of crashes involving people biking alongside and across the streetcar tracks," said spokesperson Ben Jose, "but crashes are still occurring.”

The decision comes after years of bicyclists crashing on the streetcar tracks, often leaving them with serious injuries.

Bicyclists rely on bike lanes on the corridor to commute and take their kids to school.

The proposal to install bike lanes on both sides of the street will remove 26 parking spaces on the north side of 17th Street and 19 on the south side. SFMTA believes the new lanes will provide a more predictable traffic pattern at intersections.

SFMTA had also considered a two-lane bike path along one side of the street, but that would have seen some bicyclists needing to cross the streetcar tracks even more than they do today. The transit agency also considered relocating the bike path to another nearby street, but determined that keeping the bike route on 17th Street would be the best option.

Bicyclists turning left from a two-way bike lane on 17th Street might have to cross more Muni tracks than they currently do.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition "is excited to see that the preferred option is a protected bike lane on both sides of 17th Street, which will allow room for people on bike to safely avoid the tracks," advocacy director Janice Li told us.

That being said, the bike route on that block of 17th Street, which connects the Mission to the Castro, "is a notoriously difficult stretch," and "the need for improvement is long overdue," Li added, pointing to data collected by the San Francisco Department of Public Health that show the area is a high-injury corridor for cyclists

"We know that this design does not solve all the issues along this bike route, and we look forward to hearing more feedback at tomorrow's open house so that this project can move towards implementation," she told us.

SFMTA staff aim to bring the proposal to an agency public engineering hearing this summer and to the SFMTA Board of Directors in the fall of 2017, Jose said. Construction would start after board approval.

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To improve 17th street safety sfmta proposes protected curbside bike lanes