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SFMTA releases data on Valencia Street center bike lane pilot project

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has released new data evaluating the first three months of the Valencia Street center bike lane pilot project. The numbers are underwhelming.

In the first seven months of the center bike lane, there have been 20 collisions, but the report did not compare that to a time frame before the center lane was installed.

SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin said the center bike lane successfully reduced double parking and other hazards that used to plague the corridor and increased bicycle traffic by about 3%.

“The initial evaluation says, well, we solved all the problems that we intended to solve,” Tumlin said. “We also created some new issues.”

Among those issues seem to be a drop in pedestrian traffic, occasional traffic jams, and a chorus of complaints from business owners who blame a downturn in customers and recent business closures on the center bike lane and for fewer parking spaces.

“You have to think about the bike lane being in the middle and how it’s going to affect business, people not being able to park and grab a coffee and go,” Sextant Coffee Roasters Owner Kinani Ahmed said.

Even as the center lane experiment continues, there’s talk of possible changes. There already is an alternate design on the drawing board for the center bike lane that’s very similar to a design that already exists on Valencia Street.

The shoulder design on Valencia from 15th to Market was supposed to continue the full length of the street, but during the pandemic the corridor became one of the most popular spots in the city for parklets. Now, many of them have disappeared.

The SFMTA’s decision to take another look at the design is welcome news for some of the center lane’s most vocal critics.

“I’m really glad to see SFMTA circulating and finally creating designs for curbside protected bike lanes,” bicycle and pedestrian safety advocate Luke Bornheimer said.

It could take months before a decision is made to change the center lanes and install a new design.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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