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Locked on the Bay Bridge, more red lanes, and street improvements shutter business

Three things to know today

Photo by Michael Prados

Trapped on the bike path

The Bay Bridge bike path was cruelly (but accurately) termed a “road to nowhere” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross last year, as the delay-plagued stretch took over two years longer than expected to open. The paper of record heaped even more scorn on the path in March, when they noted that the now-open path was only open during the day Saturday and Sunday, that’s it.

The pedestrian and bike path, which runs from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island (extending it to the Western span could cost as much as $300 million and take a decade to complete), was initially promised to be open 24/7. According to the Bay Bridge’s website, the path was finally opened “on weekdays in addition to weekends and holidays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.” as of May 2.

“Hours will be extended to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. beginning Friday, May 26,” they say, and cyclist Isidro Magana apparently believed them, heading across the path on May 31. By 8:42 p.m., he was locked in, 48 Hills reports, after employees locked the bike path gates.

According to 48 Hills’ report, there’s no clear protocol for how the gates should be closed, or who is supposed to respond when people (of whom there have been several, Caltrans confirms) are trapped inside.

It seems like an obvious solution here is for Caltrans to do what they promised and keep the path open all the time, but apparently it’s not that simple, after all (how many times has that been written about the revamped Bay Bridge?): Speaking to the Chron in March, Caltrans spokesperson Bob Haus says, “There are issues we have to resolve. It’s more than just putting up a sign. There are security issues, safety issues. There are a lot of things we have to work out.”

And apparently, the time elapsed since fall 2014, when the path was supposed to open, hasn’t been quite enough to work out those path-closing issues.

Photo by Eric Fischer

Seeing red across SF

The SFMTA’s red carpet of transit-only lanes has been a controversial one, with some Mission District business owners claiming they’re bad for their coffers, while a study says that the lanes make things safer and faster (still others just ignore the lanes and drive wherever they want). And now the MTA says SF can expect even more of the brightly-painted streets, as they’ve gotten a federal nod to move forward.

According to a the SFMTA, the red painted lanes you’ll see downtown on (among others) stretches of Market, Third Street, Geary, and O’Farrell, as well as along a southern stretch of Mission Street, were “installed as an experiment sponsored by the California Traffic Control Devices Committee and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).”

After the FHWA got a chance to evaluate the SFMTA’s “Red Transit Lanes Final Evaluation Report” (read it here), they agreed to let the MTA add even more lanes to the “pilot,” likely along Van Ness Avenue and the western stretch of Geary Boulevard, as well as “others in the Muni Forward Rapid Network.”

This Google Street View image from August, 2016 shows some of the construction near the soon-to-shutter Hard Wear Store

Street improvements allegedly kill business

We’ve been talking about the Department of Public Works streetscape improvement plan for Irving Street between 19th-26th Avenues since 2013, but now that it’s here, one business says it was the final nail in their coffin.

Hoodline reports that the Hard Wear store—a business specializing in SF-specific t-shirts and cult workwear fave brands like Carhart, Dickies, and Ben Davis—is closing after the store’s owner says that the lengthy construction period for the project “did us in.”

The store, located at the corner of 25th Avenue and Irving Street, has been in business for nine years, and had also struggled through a recessionary period that “burned through [owner Angela Tickler’s] personal credit.”

“I weathered a lot of stuff over a lot of years, but the streetscape project did us in,” Tickler told Hoodline. “Parking and traffic is always bad here, but when you add the construction, it became horrific. People wouldn’t come near the place, and it went on for a very, very long time.”

(This correspondent, who does not know Tickler, also owns a business located on Irving Street, on a stretch unaffected by the streetscape project.)

The project, which has its own website here, includes the addition of curb ramps, the planting of trees, decorative crosswalks, sewer work, and these weird fake black rocks people are supposed to sit on.

According to Tickler, while businesses were told construction would only happen in front of their locations for a week, “Instead of all these projects happening simultaneously in an integrated way, they were happening in tandem, and it dragged things out for more than a year.” The store, says Tickler, will close at the end of June.