Fixing San Francisco Bike Lanes
By: Sarah Jackson
Biking down Mission Street can be a nightmare. Between the 14-bus pulling over at every intersection, people opening car doors before looking, and potholes that can cause flats, it can be a very dangerous experience. As many cyclists know, biking can be extremely difficult in stretches without protected bike lanes. One proposed solution is to build more bike lanes that provide safety to cyclists and encourage more people to take up riding their bikes to work or school.
ASSEMBLYMEMBER PHIL TING INTRODUCES THE “PROTECTED BIKEWAYS ACT”
Legislation authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting would make constructing bike lanes much easier for cities. His bill would compel Caltrans to create new guidelines for bicycle facilities, the current standards were written in the beginning stages of bike lanes. The second part of this bill would amend the California Streets and Highways Code, which currently forces municipalities to follow the Caltrans’ Highway Design Manual for bicycle paths even on local roads. This bill will allow cities to use proven modern safety standards that other states are using.
AB 1193, the “Protected Bikeways Act”, has passed the CA Senate Transportation Committee on a 10-0 vote, but must still be approved by the full Senate to move forward.
“Cities have control over every aspect of their streets except when it comes to bikes,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting.
At present, California state law mandates that all bikeways must follow outdated Caltrans standards, even if the lanes are built on local streets. Cities are not allowed to experiment with other forms of bicycle lanes that other states currently use with great success to increase ridership and safety.
RAISING THE NUMBER OF CYCLISTS THROUGH MORE BIKEPATHS
According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, there has been a 96% increase in cycling since 2006, but that number is only up by 14% since 2011. This legislation may help the agency reach its goal of 20% of vehicle trips made by bikes by the year 2020.
In San Francisco there are 1,400 miles of paved roads; however, there are less than 100 miles of sectioned off bike paths. Advocates say the proposed legislation would make constructing bike lanes a lot easier, allowing for more safety for cyclists and reduce the number of pedestrian collisions, as riders will less likely to bike on sidewalks. Overall supporters maintain that the bill will encourage more people to use bikes as their main mode of transportation, getting more cars off the road and reducing our city’s carbon footprint.