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After weeks of delays, Fell Street bike lane construction now underway

Photo: Dean Preston/Twitter
By Teresa Hammerl - Published on July 21, 2020.

Construction has begun on the new parking-protected bikeway on Fell Street.

As we previously reported, the bikeway will run alongside the Panhandle path from Baker to Shrader streets, to alleviate traffic in a space that's also used by pedestrians. Construction on the bikeway was anticipated to begin in June, but "emergency access challenges" delayed it.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) director of transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said in Tuesday's Board of Directors meeting that the agency is working to "build trust with the fire department."

He said the department had some "real concerns," including emergency response times and access. The two agencies worked together to resolve those issues. Now, GPS data will be collected to track response times of fire trucks, and the collected data will be used to analyze primary response routes of the SFFD.

The Panhandle's shared path has been crowded during shelter-in-place. | Photo: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline

"It’s happening," District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston wrote on Twitter. The bike lane was first announced by SFMTA in mid-May, after pressure from Preston.

"Great to see," representatives of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition added. "This westbound bike lane will relieve congestion on the mixed-used Panhandle path, allowing for safer social distancing."

"[It's] a long-due solution," Bicycle Coalition executive director Brian Wiedenmeier told Hoodline earlier this month, noting that the increase in traffic during shelter-in-place “has created crowded and unsafe conditions” in the Panhandle. 

According to an update shared on the project's website, construction will involve the installation of flex-posts and paint. Work is expected to be completed in about three weeks.

"Because this is a temporary effort, the protected bikeways are expected to be in the ground for as long as the COVID-19 state of emergency is in place," the update concludes.

Image: SFMTA

Fell, a one-way street, has both northern and southern parking lanes. The southern lane will be moved away from the curb, with approximately 12 of the 136 parking spaces on that side removed. The spaces are needed to create turning lanes and visibility zones. 

The protected bikeway will then run along the curb, with a three-foot access aisle to get to the parking spaces.

Preston estimates that the bike lane will be functional in the first week of August.

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