San Francisco

Officials, Advocates Protest Delays For Protected Market St. Bike Lane

Yesterday, Upper Market bicyclists were greeted by a people-protected bike lane on their evening commute on Market Street and Octavia Avenue.

Music blasted as bicyclists passed more than 50 bicycle safety activists in yellow T-shirts during the chilly evening.

The protestors called for the immediate installation of the SFMTA board-approved, parking-protected bike lane as part of the Upper Market Street Safety Improvement Project. They were joined by District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy and State Senator Scott Wiener.

"We want those [bike lanes here] built now, and then our goal is to get them build protected bike lanes all the way to the Castro," organizer Matt Brezina told us. "This road is way too dangerous for people that are not in cars."

"So many people use this route," Sheehy said. "It's heavily travelled."

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy (fourth from the left) and protest organizer Matt Brezina (on Sheehy's right).

As we reported in May, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the improvements, despite objections from fire department officials. SFMTA staff recommended adding parking-protected bike lanes to a stretch of Market between Octavia and Castro streets a third of a mile long.

When we reached out to SFMTA to ask about the current project timeline and what is causing the delay, a spokesperson told us via email that SF Public Works is the lead on this.

However, when we reached out to Public Works, a spokesperson sent us back to SFMTA. As of press time, we have not yet heard back from SFMTA after a second inquiry. 

Proposed configuration with protected bike lanes. | Picture: SFMTA

The section is known as one of the city's deadliest thoroughfares. Earlier this year, a 56-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed near the intersection of Market and Octavia.

The Board of Supervisors also rejected an appeal of the project in July. Installation of initial improvements was set for earlier this year, but that has yet to happen.

"No action has been taken," San Francisco Bicycle Coalition executive director Brian Wiedenmeier said Monday evening. "I think these folks are out here calling for more urgency and for city leaders to work on whatever obstacles remain."

A protestor's sign says "SFMTA protect our families!"

Wiedenmeier also said that from his understanding, concerns from the SFFD about access for ladder trucks remain.

If parked cars are used as a buffer between Octavia and Duboce, SFFD has concerns that it could make the roadway too narrow for fire trucks or other emergency vehicles, especially with overhead wires. SFFD recently debuted a new Vision Zero-friendly fire truck that will allow firefighters to navigate protected bike lanes. 

"98 percent of the fire calls on this street are for things other than fires," Brezina told us. He added that those calls include traffic collisions and medical emergencies.

"We worked for years to get this Upper Market protected bike lane approved," Senator Wiener told Hoodline. "It's now been approved and it needs to be implemented."

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