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San Francisco’s First Raised Bike Lane Completed on Market Street

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco Public Works today announced the completion of the city’s first raised bike lane as part of a demonstration project on eastbound Market Street, from Gough to 12th streets.

The Raised Bikeway Demonstration Project introduces a new type of upgrade for San Francisco on the two-block stretch of Market Street, which sees more than 3,000 eastbound bicycle trips every weekday. The SFMTA has also launched an online survey for the public to provide feedback on the demonstration.

Raised bike lanes are vertically separated from vehicle traffic by a curb, which provides a safer, more protected and comfortable experience for people on bikes of all ages and skill levels. They also keep cars from easily entering the bikeway and encourage people to ride on the bikeway rather than on the sidewalk, creating a more predictable environment for everyone.

“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.”

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 collect feedback from street users on the designs.

The SFMTA has launched an online survey to begin collecting feedback from a variety of road users on how the raised bikeway is working. In the coming months, the agency will also conduct observations, reach out to various stakeholders and conduct an outreach even in the field to get feedback on how the different designs are working for people biking, walking, and driving, as well as for people with disabilities and commercial drivers.

“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 in how U.S. cities can build safer streets and better options for getting around. The Federal Highway Administration recently published a Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide, recognizing raised bike lanes as an important tool for communities across the U.S.

Last year, the State of California passed bill Assembly Bill 1193, to define protected bike lanes, including raised bike lanes, as a new type of bicycle facility in the California Vehicle Code. This year, Caltrans began development of design guidelines for local jurisdictions to build new bikeways, which are expected to be released on January 1, 2016.

While raised bike lanes have not been implemented widely in the U.S., they have been used extensively for decades in cities throughout the Netherlands and Denmark, resulting in some of the highest bicycle ridership rates in the world. In Copenhagen, the share of trips to work and school made by bike has reached 45 percent citywide, according to the Cycling Embassy of Denmark.

"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."

The Raised Bikeway Demonstration Project is the 20th 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.

This project was made possible by local Prop K funds, administered by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA).