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City pledges $145K to figure out problem with Valencia bike lanes

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Staffers will record how often ride-hailing drivers block bike traffic

A man on a bike walking his dog in San Francisco. By Wollertz/Shutterstock

On Tuesday, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) approved $145,000 to study bike lanes and bike traffic on Valencia Street, a year-long project that may lead to physical barriers for cyclists and increased ticketing enforcement on the busy byway.

The bike plan is a small part of a larger appropriation of more than $2.9 million in sales tax funds for various city projects. According to the agenda for the SFCTA’s Tuesday meeting, the Valencia Street Bikeway Implementation Plan will:

Develop recommendations for upgrading existing bike lanes on Valencia Street between Market Street and Mission Street. [...] The resulting implementation plan will include near and long-term recommendations for each segment of Valencia Street.

Potential recommendations include but are not limited to, protected bike lanes, parking and loading changes, and enforcement needs. The project is expected to be complete by October 2018.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that, as part of the plan, “transportation staffers will record video of Valencia Street to see how often vehicles—particularly, Uber and Lyft drivers—impede bike lanes.”

The minutes from SFCTA’s October meeting record several public commenters asking San Francisco to devote more work and data into the safety of Valencia cyclists:

Ivan Abasouth, resident on 19th Street off of Valencia Street, said that the current bike lanes did not consider the impacts from TNC and food delivery vehicles.

[...] Matt Brassina commented that he organized a group to form “People Protected Bike Lanes” that blocked bike lanes from vehicles. He said the Valencia bike lane was constructed in 1999 and was used by more capable riders, but needed to be designed for bicyclists with varying degrees of experience.

The city has already implemented protected bike lanes—i.e., lanes with physical barriers between bike and car traffic, sometimes consisting of parked cars themselves—on a few streets, with more to come.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whose district includes the Mission, sent complaint letters to ride-hailing companies last week alleging that Lyft and Uber drivers are hogging Valencia bike lanes and putting cyclists in danger.

Speaking on background, sources at Lyft told Curbed SF they want to meet with Ronen to discuss safety problems, but promised nothing specific yet.