Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, San Francisco Examiner
Proposal could cut as much as three months off time needed to implement projects
San Francisco may soon tear up the red tape delaying the construction of some protected bike lanes.
While some street safety advocates are over the moon about the idea, others worry it doesn’t go far enough to make The City’s deadly streets safe to walk and bike.
A proposal up for approval Tuesday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors would give city staff the authority to create “quick build” protected bike lanes without the approval of the SFMTA board.
Staff would also be empowered to enact other street changes without going before the SFMTA board, including creating transit boarding islands, designating blue and red parking zones, establishing stop signs, prohibiting right, left or U-turns, establishing restrictions against red-light turns, and establishing multiple turn lanes.
The new proposal comes on the heels of Mayor London Breed’s directive to transit leaders to make walking safer, and build 20 miles of protected bike lanes in two years.
“These policies align with the Mayor’s directive to make our streets safer and to save lives by streamlining the delivery of critically important improvements,” said Jeff Cretan, the mayor’s spokesperson, in a statement.
Quick-build bike lanes usually feature bendable posts separating bike lanes from car lanes, and are easily taken out, an SFMTA staff report said. More permanent concrete bike lanes or bike lanes that use vehicle parking as a barrier, for instance, would still require SFMTA board approval.
As for the less permanent quick-build bike lanes, staff would still need to run those proposals through a City Hall engineering hearing to give the public a chance to voice concerns. But cutting the SFMTA board out of the process would save projects up to three months of time, staff argued in a report.
The Mayor’s Office said that last part is key.
“There will still be a public hearing for people to weigh in, but to make our streets safer for all we can’t continue to slow down public safety projects with layers of bureaucracy,” Cretan said.