SF to Streamline Approvals for Protected Bike Lanes, Other Safety Improvements

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.

Read more at https://www.sfexaminer.com/the-city/sf-to-streamline-approvals-for-protected-bike-lanes-other-safety-improvements/

Lightning Fast, Dirt Cheap: Five Tips From SF’s Protected Bike Lane Projects

Michael Anderson, Streetsblog USA

f you’d like to cut the project time of a new protected bike lane by 90 percent and the cost by 75 percent, Mike Sallaberry has some advice.

A senior transportation engineer for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Sallaberry has a short piece in the new issue of ITE Journal sharing useful details on three projects in 2016 and 2017 that used the “quick-build” method. Instead of spending two years getting every detail right and then pouring permanent curbs, SFMTA built first — using paint, plastic and removable concrete islands — and asked questions both before and after.

The result, as Sallaberry explains, is a potentially more inclusive public process and a project that’s far more efficient.

“Common practice in San Francisco has been to identify the ideal result then wait for design, funding, contracting and construction to deliver the design,” says Sallaberry. “While this makes sense for many situations, a new approach was used recently where intermediate designs were implemented in the near term to act as ‘stepping stones’ to a longer term design.”

Maybe most important, the inherent flexibility of the quick-build approach makes it institutionally easier for a public agency to innovate. Without so much “fear of installing something that does not work,” Sallaberry explains, city staff feel free “to try new ideas to solve challenging issues.”

The agile process recalls modern software engineering, so it’s fitting that San Francisco is among the first cities embracing it. Here are five lessons we saw in Sallaberry’s piece for other cities interested in becoming fast followers.

Read more at https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/02/27/lightning-fast-dirt-cheap-five-tips-from-sfs-protected-bike-lane-projects/

No, Protected Bike Lanes Do Not Need to Cost $1 million Per Mile

Michael Anderson, People for Bikes.org

Putting protected bike lanes on both sides of a street can cost $1 million per mile. The country’s most physically beautiful protected bike lane network, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, cost several million dollars per mile.

Like most things in life, there are always ways to spend more money to make something more awesome.

But every once in a while, someone will acquire and share the mistaken belief that a protected bike lane, like a sidewalk, has to cost $1 million per mile. This is not true.

To explain, we’ll share three infographics (from past posts) that together tell the story pretty well.

First, here is a visual explanation of the “quick build” method many U.S. cities are using to modernize their project delivery process. Instead of trying to plan something for perfection from the beginning, like you’d need to do if you were building a freeway, cities advance along a spectrum of decreasingly flexible and increasingly durable materials over the course of a decade or so, gradually tweaking a street toward greater safety and comfort and fixing small issues along the way.

quick build spectrum
Tactical Urbanism: The Spectrum of Change, Michael Anderson, People for Bikes, Source.

Read more for “14 ways to make bike lanes better” and “protected bike lanes do not cost $1 million per mile”: https://peopleforbikes.org/blog/protected-bike-lanes-do-not-cost-1-million-per-mile/

New Blueprint Spreads the Gospel of Overnight Bike Lanes

Josh Cohen, Next City

Late last month, the Seattle Department of Transportation began upgrading the Second Avenue “pilot” protected bike lane by replacing plastic bollards with planters, installing new traffic signals and raising the pavement at busy driveway crossings. Unlike the usual multiyear design, review and build process, SDOT took the Second Avenue project from design to installation in just four months. They used paint and easily removable plastic bollards and promised to fix or reverse any problems they encountered after the lanes were on the ground.

That approach is part of a growing trend among city DOTs to quickly design and implement demonstration projects that help advance their bike and pedestrian network goals and illustrate to the public exactly how new types of infrastructure work in the real world. Last week, PeopleForBikes released a new report, “Quick Builds for Better Streets,” looking at lessons from projects in Seattle, New York, Chicago, Austin, Denver, Memphis, Pittsburgh and San Francisco for other cities interested in replicating the concept.

“We observed that a bunch of cities were doing cool stuff and wanted to put a name on this trend, take the lessons about how to make these rapid changes, digest them a little bit, put them into some form of blueprint that another city could replicate,” explains report co-author Michael Andersen, PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project staff writer.

The quick-build trend grew out of small-scale tactical urbanism projects where activists would block off a street or paint their own bike lane or create a protected bike lane with cheap plastic bollards. It was a way to demonstrate to glacially paced bureaucracies that change could be fast and easy.

New York City’s Department of Transportation was one of the first and certainly the most famous city government to adopt quick builds. Under former Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, New York created dozens of pedestrian plazas and pilot bike lanes using bollards and paint. Former NYC DOT Policy Director Jon Orcutt co-authored the PeopleForBikes report.

According to the report, a quick build is defined by four elements. It must be led by a city government or other public agency; installed roughly within a year of the start of planning; planned with the expectation that it may undergo change after installation; and built using materials that allow such changes.

Orcutt and Andersen drew on the experiences of cities experimenting with quick builds to come up with a list of ingredients required for success, which includes a designated team, a system for recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities, reliable funding, plans for speedily hiring contractors, impact metrics and more.

Read more: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/cities-tactical-urbanism-speed-up-change-peopleforbikes