Earlier this year the SF Municipal Transportation Agency revealed the new JFK separated bikeway. Since its unveiling there have been mixed reviews on the effectiveness of such a design. For those of you who have not ventured over to Golden Gate Park to see what the fuss is all about, the new separated bikeway looks like this:
The SFBC noticed that in the early stages of use there were three main problems with the design:
1. Cars parking in the bike lane
2. Cars parking in the buffer lane
3. Pedestrians exiting cars and crossing the bike lane without looking out for bikes
According to the SFBC these problems largely rectified themselves as riders and drivers became acclimated to the new design. They found that in general, cyclists felt safer using the lane because there was so much space between them and moving traffic.
Protected bike lanes are increasing in number throughout the United States and with Market Street improvements on the table and city planners always looking for new ways to integrate bikes onto city streets, it is important to have an open and productive conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of this type of protected bike lane.
In May the San Francisco Bay Guardian expressed a few of its concerns with such a design:
1. The increased potential for pedestrian and cyclist collisions
2. The lack of traffic enforcement leading to use of the buffer lane during peak hours, increasing the potential for collision between cars and between cars and cyclists.
It is clear that San Francisco needs better and safer bike lanes. However, the jury is still out on this particular type of protected bike lane. What can be improved with this type of project? How can we do it better next time?