Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Judge Grants Partial Bicycle Injunction Relief

In the future: expect something more like this "bike corral" outside the Main Library or at least the utilitarian inverted U locks where cyclists need them.

Instead of this current option for bike parking found in NOPA and all over the city.

Superior Court Judge Peter J. Busch ordered a partial lifting of the three-year old injunction prohibiting bicycle improvements in San Francisco this afternoon. The court order allows the "most easily reversible" projects to be implemented while still holding back the more extensive improvements designed to complete the city's bike network. The limited relief allows the city to implement bike projects for the first time since the injunction was issued in June 2006, a period of 1254 days.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) submitted a list of twelve "most easily reversible" bike enhancements to the court earlier this month. Judge Busch accepted nine of the twelve plus installation of bike racks, painting sharrows (the shared-use chevron-like pavement markings), and other innovative improvements to make bicycling safer in the city.

The nine approved projects include bike lanes on the following streets: Howard, Otis, Scott, Mississippi, Kansas, Clarendon, Clipper, 7th Avenue, and JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park. (The three projects denied by the judge were those intended for Fremont, Kirkham, and the Great Highway).

SFMTA has been anticipating implementation of bike improvements -- while remaining within the limits of the injunction -- and anticipates moving forward with projects as soon as the court permitted them to do so. Bicyclists and livability advocates can expect the first installations within the next week or two, weather permitting.

The most immediate benefit for NOPA bicyclists is the Scott Street Bicycle Lane, Fell street to Oak Street. The project involves the installation of a dedicated, striped bike lane (a Class II bike lane) northbound on Oak between Fell and Oak. Two design options have been under consideration.

According to the SFMTA description of the project, "Option 1 would add a northbound Class II left-turn bicycle lane by removing the left-turn lanes on northbound Scott Street approaching Fell Street and on southbound Scott Street approaching Oak Street." Under Option 1, no parking spaces would be removed.

"Option 2 would add a northbound Class II left-turn lane bicycle lane by narrowing travel lanes and removing approximately three parking spaces from the west side of Scott Street between Fell and Oak Street." SFMTA adds: "the existing left-turn lanes approaching Fell Street and Oak Street would not change under Option 2."

SFMTA staff have presumably decided upon one of the two options, but representatives have yet to announce their choice. (Although a variation of Option 1: removing the left-turn lane and adding two parking spaces is a serious contender). This summer the neighborhood associations for both the North Panhandle (NOPNA) and Alamo Square (ASNA) issued letters of support to bicycle improvements on Scott Street.

San Francisco officials expect a June 1, 2010 start date for a court hearing of the lawsuit that originally resulted in the Bike Plan injunction. Bicyclists and a good many San Franciscans frustrated by the delay in improvements hope the lawsuit will then be dissolved and the injunction lifted.

Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, commented on the court decision in a press release today. "Interest in bike commuting is surging in San Francisco, and it's really heartening to see so many new people on the streets, despite the three-year absence in improvements," Shahum said. "There's definitely an excitement that San Francisco could become one of America's most bicycle-friendly cities once the injunction is fully lifted."

For a full reading of the court order, see the pdf here, posted on

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