Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fell Street Gets Striped; Motorists Find Many Changes

Two new bicyclist icons for the bike lane approaching Arco station and at exit.

"Do Not Block Sidewalk": no respect during its first two days

Arco attendant helped guide customers in during striping operation, but provided no intervention with sidewalk blocking

City paint crews took advantage of the dry weather today and striped Fell Street for the new traffic design that may improve safety and traffic flow for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. People on bikes will find the same continuous, straight-ahead bike lane, but everyone should expect motorists to be surprised and confused with lane changes. And no one should be surprised when some drivers ignore the new design.

An aerial view would be best for getting a sense of the lane changes, but here's perhaps the next best option with words and photos:
  • motorists in the far left traffic lane will find a solid do-not-cross stripe up to the new mid-block access to the queue for Arco (between 7am and 7pm daily)
  • motorists in this same far left lane will no longer be able to turn left onto Divisadero; "No Left Turn" is stenciled on the pavement
  • the only way motorists are allowed to turn left on Divisadero is from a new curbside Left Turn Only lane; there are dashed stripes starting at the Arco entry for drivers to move into this turn lane
  • Arco customers can exit onto Fell as usual (as well as onto Divisadero) but they cannot (or at least should not) cross the solid stripe into the westbound traffic lanes
The lane configurations represent major changes for how motorists use this block of Fell Street, and both in-person guidance and enforcement will be needed initially. The tow-away signs have been posted for 24 hours now, but as of noon today the parking spots just east of Arco were mostly full. One resident chose to block half the sidewalk by parking in the driveway. And the new "Do Not Block Sidewalk" directive was virtually ignored, or not seen, by Arco customers.

Bicyclists and motorists might encounter the most difficulty at the Arco exit with drivers waiting to push into the westbound traffic lane and thus blocking left-turners and cyclists wanting to cross Divisadero. Although many cyclists want to see the Fell Street entry to Arco closed for safer travel, the new traffic design may present greater conflicts at this exit.

SFMTA will evaluate all the changes during the next several weeks.


  1. I agree with Anthony's comment yesterday. The new Fell St. exit pattern may be MORE dangerous than the Fell St. entrance. I foresee more motorists jockeying for position to exit into northbound Divisadero, which would probably be a good thing for cyclists.

  2. just rode by them as they were finishing up - with a thank you! any chance we can get the exit onto fell completely closed and just exit onto divis? the exit onto fell at the intersection is sooooooo dangerous. Throws cyclists into traffic and dangerous intersection for eveyone. instead of waiting until something bad happens, lets be proactive and prevent anything bad happening while we have a small open window of opportunity, how about we try to get the exit onto fell closed. how does this work?

  3. Thanks for the update. Perfect excuse for a long after-work ride!

    Are white signs advisory or mandatory? If it's just a suggestion, don't expect motorists to follow it or SFPD to enforce it.

  4. FWIW, I didn't know about this phase until I walked by it a few minutes ago… I agree it looks dangerous for cyclists. The fact that there's no left turn from the "main" left lane means that more and more people will be trying to get into the curb lane, OR that cars will swerve through the bike lane just after the ARCO entrance to get into the turn lane, OR cars will just turn left from the no-turns lane as they always have.

  5. Until the police get involved, first informing/warning motorists, then eventually issuing tickets, cars will continue to block the sidewalk and bicycle lane.

    I don't know about the law in San Francisco, but in many municipalities, the station owners/managers could be held responsible for creating a community nuisance.

    Law enforcement is not my preferred solution to such problems, but sometimes that is the only thing that brings results.

  6. I can't believe this is what we've waited all this time for. As others have said, it looks like the SFMTA has managed to make the situation at the Arco station even more dangerous than before. Having to avoid cars lined up in the bike lane seems like a walk in the park compared to the new configuration which puts cyclists in the path of cars cutting across the bike lane to turn left onto Divisadero, and cars exiting the Arco station wanting to continue West on Fell, cutting across the left turn lane AND the bike lane. ( I watched incredulously for 10 minutes as car after car pulled this bonehead maneuver). Riding through the area between the the Arco entrance and the intersection, bicyclists now have to deal with cars crossing the bike lane from the left and the right... a veritable Slice and Dice of traffic management. A "Left Turn onto Divisadero ONLY" sign for vehicles exiting the station is mandatory if this crazy configuration is ever going to work. Better still, would be a "No Left Turn Anytime" for Fell St traffic, and make the new Left Turn Lane into a big green bike box.