The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency today announced that starting Monday, Oct. 19, it will be working with San Francisco Public Works to create the city’s first raised bike lane as part of a demonstration project. The Raised Bikeway Demonstration Project will run on a two-block stretch of eastbound Market Street from Gough to 12th streets, upgrading the current green, separated bikeway. The route currently serves more than 3,000 inbound bike trips every weekday.
The SFMTA, which oversees all ground transportation in San Francisco, is taking an innovative approach with the demonstration, testing four different raised bikeway designs simultaneously. This approach will allow the agency to test future applications of raised bikeways with different elevations and slopes, as well as take feedback from road users on the designs.
“As a rapidly growing city, we need to modernize our streets to increase safety and connectivity. Creating better, safer bikeways is a key part of that effort,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “This demonstration project will show people how raised bikeways can help San Franciscans get around by better organizing our roadways and making them safer for everyone.”
Raised bikeways are bike facilities that are vertically separated from vehicle traffic, resulting in a range of safety and comfort benefits. By providing dedicated and separated space for people biking, raised bikeways improve comfort and safety and are also more attractive to people biking at all levels and ages. They also keep cars from easily entering the bikeway and encourage people to ride in the bikeway rather than on the sidewalk.
“We’re looking forward to the implementation of this experiment, as we continue to search for new ways to improve the quality of life in the City,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “The pilot will provide us with the real-world experience to evaluate raised bikeways in San Francisco.”
The Raised Bikeway Demonstration Project comes at a time of increased interest on how U.S. states and cities can build better, safer streets. At the national level, the Federal Highway Administration recently published a Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide, recognizing raised bikeways as an important tool communities across the U.S. can use to increase safety and better organize roadways.
Last year, the State of California passed bill A.B. 1193, which formally defined raised bikeways and protected bike lanes as a new kind of bike facility in the California Vehicle Code. And this year, Caltrans started to develop guidance for local jurisdictions to use when they design and build the new bikeways. The new Caltrans guidelines are expected to be released on Jan. 1, 2016.
"This is an innovative design modeled after bike lanes shown to increase safety for people biking and walking," said Noah Budnick, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "We're excited to see how the new design calms traffic and makes San Francisco easier, safer and more enjoyable for everyone to get around."
After construction of the Raised Bikeway Demonstration Project, the SFMTA will be launching an online survey, as well as conducting intercept surveys, field observations, and focus groups to get more feedback on how the different designs are working for people biking, walking, and driving, as well as for people with disabilities and commercial drivers.
The Raised Bikeway Demonstration Project is also one of 24 priority safety projects that the city has promised to complete by February 2016 as part of Vision Zero, the city’s commitment to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024. Nineteen of those projects have already been completed. All 24 are slated to be complete by February 2016.
The city adopted Vision Zero as a policy in 2014, committing to build better and safer streets, educate the public on traffic safety, enforce traffic laws, and adopt policy changes that save lives. The result of this collaborative, citywide effort will be safer, more livable streets as San Francisco works towards the Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024. For more information, go to: www.visionzerosf.org.
- Starting Oct. 19, construction will generally take place at the following times to avoid rush hour traffic: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. – 5 a.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Construction is estimated to last up to four weeks.
- Bikes and transit will not be detoured from Market Street and will be accommodated as much as possible during construction.
- For most of the construction period, there will be a bike lane next to the Muni track lane in the eastbound direction.
- Eastbound traffic in the rightmost lane at Gough will be detoured to go right instead of straight. Eastbound traffic in the other lanes can continue through.