Buffered SoMa bike lane better than nothing

Would you go riding your bike down Seventh or Eighth Street in SoMa?

I sure as heck wouldn’t do it.

Have you seen the people that drive down those one-way roads?! Motorists and cyclists do not a happy intersection make.

Which makes it no surprise that Eighth Street has a history of pedestrian and bicycle-related injuries, particularly on the blocks between Mission and Folsom, which is more residential.

Now, there are measures being put in place to make Eighth Street a bit safer, for everyone. SF Streetsblog reported Monday that The City — which just finished repaving the street last week — also added a buffered bike lane to the busy one-way road.

This comes just a little over a month after the speed limit on four SoMa streets was lowered from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

These projects, put together by District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, are just a couple ways to “calm traffic” on busy SoMa streets — home to an eclectic mix of residence and businesses — and make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians:

“Eighth Street is an important connector corridor between the Civic Center, Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods.”

The efforts definitely move in the right direction, though I’m not throwing on my bike shorts for the ride from the Holiday Inn to the ballpark just yet. While the larger bike lanes and slower speed limit are welcome additions, they’re not exactly the all-encompassing solution to the traffic or injury problems in SoMa.

For starters, there still isn’t a physical barrier between the car and bike lanes. Any of you who see the way people drive downtown know that plenty of disgruntled motorists — or worse, Muni buses — are going to be in a big hurry to get somewhere and drive right into that big buffered bike lane.

And while these small first steps can definitely lead to traffic improvements, there still is no timeline for other amendments.

“As the neighborhood grows, I want to see more people walking and biking as their first choice of transportation to make short trips.” Kim said. Let’s hope she can see that effort come to reality sooner than later.