Friday, April 13, 2012

Poorly designed bike lanes in the park

The letter below appears in today's Chronicle and in yesterday's Examiner:

Park bike lanes: bad design

I can't believe the Bicycle Coalition agreed to the new bike lane design in  Golden Gate Park. Cyclists now ride in a lane between the curb on the right and parked cars on the left. You have cyclists,  in-line skaters, rental bikers, and children all stuck in the same lane with  pedestrians trying to get to and from their cars.

When I've ridden it, I've had to dodge a child darting out from between the  cars and a family of five who strolled across the bike lane confused about where  to go. I've also been stuck behind Segways and rental bikers, forcing me and  another rider to go out into the traffic lane just to top 5 mph.

But of course the traffic lanes are now thinner to make room for the new  bike lanes. So we're left with one non-functional, unsafe lane and another mildly functional unsafe lane. Meanwhile, cars have less room to maneuver, and  people getting out of their parked cars are forced to try to avoid traffic on  one side and cyclists on the other. I can't figure out who thought this was a  good idea. The old lanes were fine---why change them?

Tom Kleinhenz,
San Francisco

City Hall's policy is to do whatever it can to get more people to ride bikes in the city, even if a particular project doesn't make sense. This is what one of my correspondents was told when he questioned the bike lanes in the park:

When I used common sense asking MTA how things will look, they were repeating they need to get more people on bikes. The fact that their ideas didn't make much practical sense doesn't matter. Wait till the pedestrian, bicycle accidents start adding up. Then people might sue MTA for a bad design. Bicyclists got what they asked for, its too late to complain. (emphasis added)

That's what the MTA guy in charge of the Panhandle bike lanes told me is the rationale for that project: "...the goals of the project include reducing collisions, as well as improving the subjective feeling of safety to encourage more people to bicycle more often." (emphasis added)

As a party to the Bicycle Plan litigation, I see all the briefs filed by the city. City Hall made it clear in their final brief before Judge Busch that, regardless of how disruptive the Bicycle Plan will be for city traffic, including Muni---taking away more than 50 traffic lanes and 2,000 street parking spaces---the benefits will outweigh making traffic worse for everyone else. Incredibly, this is based on the completely unsupported assumption that the Plan will result in more people riding bikes. I was surprised to see this admission in the city's brief:

The City found that, despite the significant impacts from approval of the Bicycle Plan...the benefits of approving the Plan outweighed the unavoidable impacts it created (page 25)...the City determined that by implementing the Bicycle Plan, more people would chose[sic] to ride a bicycle than currently do---the idea of "mode shift" (page 26)...Nothing in the Statement[of Overriding Considerations] downplays the number or magnitude of traffic or transit impacts, or overstates the number of bicyclists, the primary beneficiaries of the Project's benefits (pages 27 and 28, in "Respondent City and County San Francisco's Opposition to Petitioners' Objections to City's Return," emphasis added ).

Bikes uber alles! The Bicycle Coalition of course has campaigned for the defective bike lanes in Golden Gate Park.

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At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do know that Tom Kleinhenz was on the Mission Cycling ride with Chris Bucchere, don't you? Interesting to see that you are jumping to defend the position of a spandex warrior who rides around the streets at high speed because he is pissed off that we took a chunk of the road in the park and made it less useful for bike racers and more useful for 8 year olds.

The lanes are defective only if you want to ride at high speed. So in attacking the lanes you are defending high speed aggressive riding. Nice.

Or do you prefer the racers use the park and the 8 year olds not get to ride at all?

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You mean it's all for the kids? Hard to see that this design makes it safer for anyone, especially children. But to the Bicycle Coalition the idea of a protected bike lane is more important than practcial considerations.

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it hard to see that if there is a line of parked cars between the moving cars and the cyclists, that the moving cars won't hit the cyclists?

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The lane forces everyone---cyclists, rollerbladers, segways---into that area between the curb and the parked cars. There's no wiggle room for people moving at different speeds, not to mention the motorists who have to dodge that traffic both on the driver's side and between the car and the sidewalk.

As a bike guy, you of course think that the whole city should be designed to prevent cyclists from being hit by cars.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Bazooka Lemming said...

Never thought i'd agree with something you posted Rob, but this guy is right - those GGpark lanes are an asinine design.

At 5:15 PM, Anonymous eltejano said...

"The lanes are defective only if you want to ride at high speed. "

That is wrong. The lanes are now defective when trying to do normal speed non-racing commuting rides.

They're also horrible when it's raining because now riders are on the far right side in the water that backs up (fortunately I have fenders). That reduces the bike lane even more.

I can't believe the bike coalition helped push this through. Actually, I'm starting to learn that they don't listen to their members.

At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Motorists seem to do just fine dodging motor vehicle traffic crossing the street once they become pedestrians, yet they can't cross a bike lane? That by all of your accounts will be empty because nobody rides a bike?

Segways? How many of those in all of SF, 100? What a farce.

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was there any evidence, say from an independent survey, that improvements would increase bike ridership, and if so by how much over what timeframe. Do you Rob or anyone know?

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, there's no evidence that these bike projects will increase cycling in the city. But, as the quotation I provide from the city's brief in the Bicycle Plan litigation shows, it's city policy to proceed with the projects anyhow with nothing but the hope that that will happen. We are now challenging that unsupported theory in the Court of Appeal.

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Link to your appeal, Rob?

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stanley Roberts did a piece on these idiotic bike lanes on last night's KRON episode. Trully stupid. I like the scene where parents are basically in the middle of the road trying to put their infant in a car seat. This is so fucking stupid.


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