Friday, March 01, 2013

Bike lane project on the Panhandle

Dave Holloway sends this message:

Rob, for those of us less intimate with the details of the Oak/Fell/Masonic plans, could you summarize?  And elaborate on why you think they're bad? Coming from a largely uninformed place, my gut reaction is that Oak/Fell is for cars, and Page is for bicycles. Masonic is currently for cars, but there's not really good way north for bicycles until you get to Arguello (which is too far west to be comparable).
Your "gut reaction" about these streets is sound.

Street parking in the Panhandle neighborhood is very scarce, since a lot of working people in the area don't have off-street parking for their cars. I know this from experience. Ten years ago I lived on Grove St., and I was tasked with moving my roommate's car when she was out of town. She also needed a car to get to work on the Peninsula. It was a major hassle, since garbage collection in the area is rotated from one street to another on different days. It often took me half an hour to find a legal parking space.

The proposed bike lanes on Fell and Oak Streets between Scott and Baker Streets will eliminate 104 parking spaces, thus making it exponentially harder to find parking for a lot of people. Now, if you adhere to the anti-car ideology held by the Bicycle Coalition and City Hall, it's just tough shit for those folks for owning a car in the city (by the way, I haven't owned a car in more than 30 years). I think it's a big deal and it's unnecessary.

If there was no serious alternative for cyclists coming from that part of town to the Wiggle, the Panhandle project might be justified. But as you say, cyclists who are not comfortable with the present set-up  can now use Page Street to get to the Wiggle on that side of the Panhandle and Hayes Street on the other side.

The Panhandle project is all about making cyclists "comfortable" (see pages 15, 16, and 17 in the city's Powerpoint presentation), since there's no evidence of a serious safety issue with the present arrangement. Cyclists who are already "comfortable"---or at least unintimidated---can continue to use Oak and Fell Streets to and from the Wiggle; others should use Page and Hayes Streets. Going west on Page Street from the Wiggle, most cyclists will have to push their bikes up the hill for one block between Divisadero and Broderick Streets, the only serious hill on Page. I often walk that part of Page Street on my way to Kezar Stadium to do laps, and I always see cyclists on Page going in both directions.

To travel west on Hayes Street from Scott Street, some cyclists will have to push their bikes up the hill on Scott between Fell and Hayes, but that hill is trivial compared to the one on Page between Diviz and Broderick, and cyclists in reasonable condition would have no problem with it.

My conclusion: removing all that street parking---104 spaces, according to the city---is really unnecessary given the analysis above.

Masonic Avenue presents a similar situation, only on a much larger scale.

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