San Francisco’s Market Street Hazardous to Bicyclists: When Will Bicycle Safety Improve?

-Posted On April 25, 2013 In Bicycle Community-

I join the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) in their hard-fought attempt to increase the awareness of Mayor Lee and those responsible for the safety of our San Francisco streets about the urgent need for better bicycle safety on Market Street.

San Francisco is already a bicycle-friendly city but sadly, our City also has a high bicycle accident rate. The SFBC has been great about loudly and steadfastly fighting for the rights of cyclists in San Francisco, especially since it was recently announced that there will be further delays on the Better Market Street project on this premier bike corridor. It was announced that improvements won’t start until 2017!

As a San Francisco Bicycle Accident Attorney, promoting bicycle safety is one of my primary goals. When I was standing on Market Street just this week with one of my bicycle clients who had been run over by a MUNI bus, I was aghast to see how many cyclists were interacting with cars and trucks and pedestrians and busses and bad pavement, all in a very dangerous way. When we have so many different types of users of a roadway, we need to find a safer way for them to share the road. This is the job of civil engineers, and only the City can make the changes necessary to make this busy corridor safe for bicycle riders and all users of the road.

I was driving on Market just two weeks ago and I was confused by the lane markings, the signs, the islands, and all of the other vehicles that either could or could not use the lanes. Market Street, as it sits right now, is one big trap and an invitation to danger. That said, I also have to say that San Francisco’s lengthy delay in making urgently needed safety improvements to Market Street is absurd.

I fully support the SFBC’s Better Market Street Project which is now urging cyclists off of Market Street–until necessary improvements have been completed–and onto Mission Street instead where bikeway improvements are more viable. In fact, both streets should be improved, as they continue to remain important thoroughfares in the City for bikes.

The Market Street debate is the main event though for San Francisco bicyclists. The prominence of Market Street will continue into the future. I urge all San Francisco bicycle enthusiasts to share your thoughts about safety being delayed by contacting Neal Patel, Planning Director (, 415.431.2453 x312).

The SFBC recently sent a letter to Mayor Lee and SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin on February 5, 2013. It highlights the concerns of 12,000 members of the SFBC. The members call out:

Market Street is our city’s premier street. You and your staff have put considerable energy into revitalizing mid-Market in particular, making promising steps toward improving this part of town for everyone. Biking has been a key part of the success of your work thus far; many of the companies that are now moving to mid-Market depend on great bicycling access to attract the talent they need…

In fact, bikes are a critical part of the current and future economy, social safety, and transportation on Market Street and the surrounding neighborhoods. It would be counter-productive for the City to roll back its own mid-Market and central city revitalization efforts back by limiting biking on this street…” 

I’m equally astounded to know that in 2009, the Transportation Authority (TA) recommended implementing pilots to test automobile restrictions and improvements to transit, bicycling, and walking on Market Street. The pilot restrictions had huge impacts on Market Street. I wonder if this has been ignored? Now it’s 2013 and despite some much-appreciated paving on Market Street in 2012, Market Street overall continues to remain far from safe.

The safety improvements for people biking on Market Street cannot wait any longer.

The statistics prove that the number of people bicycling in San Francisco is skyrocketing (and this growth is evident on Market Street). Last year on Bike-to-Work Day, bicycles made up 73% of eastbound traffic on Market Street. This is amazing. Just think of how many cars we could get off the roads if this many people biked to work every day?

We can all agree that bicycle congestion has been growing through the years in the City. All of these cyclists rely upon a safe infrastructure.

We know the MUNI system needs attention. Since MUNI continues to provide accident-prone vehicles and equipment, promoting bicycling in its place is one of the fastest and cheapest alternatives to using MUNI.

Of course, the SFBC wishes that the Better Market Street project resumed immediately, but they have only attempted to close the gap by another year. I guess it’s the best they can do considering what they are up against. I beg to differ and propose we get this underway in 2013–this year. We need immediate improvements to our city streets.

I share the SFBC’s wish for immediate improvements to the bicycling experience on Market Street–repairs and upgrades.

Remember my motto… if it’s predictable, it’s preventable.

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