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Only three additional blocks of Howard Street to get protected bike lanes

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Protected lanes on Howard Street should extend to the waterfront, say cycling advocates

Unprotected bike lane on Folsom between Third and Second Streets.
Photo by Brock Keeling

Following the death of cyclist Tess Rothstein, 30, who was killed by a driver on March 8 in the city’s South of Market neighborhood, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) agreed to approve additional protected bike lanes for Howard Street.

The cyclist’s friends and family penned a letter to the city that reads, in part:

Tess would still be here—asking questions, sharing stories, listening attentively, and living fully—if the city had addressed its urgent safety needs before her tragic accident last Friday. We implore you to implement a comprehensive plan to address bicycle safety in our community. We appreciate your rapid response to the unsafe conditions on a small portion of Howard Street; however, our community cannot wait for another beloved person to die before a comprehensive plan is put in place to ensure bicyclists’ safety.

The additional protected lanes will be installed for three blocks along Howard Street between Third and Sixth. The block of Fifth Street already received an immediate protected lane, which happened in record time. However, the lane that will provide a buffer between cyclists and parked cars and/or vehicles will extend only to Third Street.

Many advocates, including District Six Supervisor Matt Haney, say that three blocks isn’t enough.

“There are things that are complicated in our city. This one should not be,” said Haney, referring to the expedited implementation of protected bike lanes. “What we are demanding is quite simple: fully protected bike lane infrastructure, and for those to be approved and implemented quickly.”

Both cycling advocates and District Six Supervisor Matt Haney pushed for more protected lanes Tuesday on the steps of City Hall in a rally organized by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The supervisor and the coalition have demanded the following from SFMTA: 1) Protected bike lanes for the entirety of Howard and Folsom, 2) Fast-tracked progress on the city’s bicycling high-injury corridors citywide in the next year, 3) a streamlined approvals process for protected bike lanes.

After the urging of Haney and the cycling advocacy group, “a plan to install protected bike lanes on deadly Howard Street from Third Street to the waterfront may go before city officials for approval as early as this summer,” reports San Francisco Examiner.

SFMTA will reportedly create a ranked list of San Francisco’s most dangerous streets by April.