This week the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) sent interns to advise motorists about the new traffic configuration on Fell Street near the Divisadero intersection and the Arco service station. As first reported by Streetsblog, two interns talked with drivers who were awaiting their turns at the gas pumps -- and blocking the bike lane or sidewalk in the process. The staffers pointed out that the curbside "parking lane" is now clear from 7am to 7pm daily to allow drivers to line up.
After developing the new traffic design and getting it approved through a public hearing process, the SFMTA initially hoped drivers would figure out for themselves that a new curbside queue had been created to keep them from blocking traffic or bicycles. But without any signage or pavement markings to alert them to the change, few if any drivers waited along the curb. Instead, most straddled the bike lane much as before. Tuesday and Thursday of this week the interns distributed a flyer (see photo) to direct drivers to the curb.
SFMTA stands to get a much better reading of the new design's effectiveness once drivers start using the queue. The agency will conduct a study of the experimental design before painting the bike lane solid green and will follow that with an evaluation of the impact of the colored stripe on driver and cyclist behavior.
The Fell Street exit from Arco appears to require a similar intervention as drivers frequently ignore the signs and pavement markings that direct them to use the new curbside Left Turn Only lane. Instead, motorists block the sidewalk, the turning lane, and often the bike lane while waiting to slip into the westbound traffic lane (see video from Friday, July 9th).
Correction, July 14th: Arco customers may legally exit the station and enter the westbound Fell traffic lane, even while crossing a solid white lane. The California Vehicle Code does not prohibit the action, and SFMTA has confirmed this conclusion. (See July 14th post).
Motorists may yet adopt the new configuration and reduce risks for all users of Fell Street. However, the weakest aspects of the design are those that accommodate the entry and exit to Arco. Closing these and permitting access to Arco only from Divisadero would result in far safer passage for pedestrians and cyclists along Fell, but the ripple effect would likely disrupt and slow northbound vehicles on Divisadero, including the #24 bus.