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Bikeway plan for 17th Street set for vote

The treacherous stretch of 17th between Sanchez and Church streets for bicyclists may soon get protected bikeways.

Planners with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will bring a proposal to the Board of Directors at their regular Tuesday meeting to remove parking spaces on both sides of 17th between Sanchez and Church streets to install one-way protected bikeways.

The proposal would remove 26 parking spaces on the north side and 19 parking spaces on the south side, according to the SFMTA.

Since the summer of 2016, SFMTA officials had been working with former Supervisor Scott Wiener and current Supervisor Jeff Sheehy to develop a plan for bicyclists to safely ride on 17th Street where Muni rail tracks run in both directions between Church and Noe streets.

The SFMTA hosted two public open houses earlier this year, where bicyclists told SFBay how dangerous it was to ride the street where many have gotten their bike tires stuck in the tracks.

A SFMTA staff report said double parking is an issue for bicyclists on 17th Street who have to go around the double-parked vehicle and cross over the rail tracks, which is how crashes occur.

According to San Francisco Police Department data, there have been 13 incidents where bicyclists have crashed on the tracks and one incident involving an electric scooter, within the last five years.

The transit agency looked at several alternatives, including adding a product called a “flangeway” in the gap of the rail track that would suppress the weight of a streetcar, but would prevent a person on bike or in a wheelchair from falling in.

The SFMTA reports that flangeways are mostly used on straight sections rail tracks, and would not work on curved sections of rail tracks such as on 17th and Church streets.

Another solution that some bicyclists called for was to remove the rail tracks altogether, but that was not an option as the rail tracks are used for streetcars to get the main revenue service lines, SFMTA officials said.

The tracks are also used if streetcars need to bypass emergencies or road closures, according to the SFMTA report.

Cost estimates for the project have not been finalized, but the SFMTA expects the project to cost less than $100,000.

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  1. Daniel Camp says:

    For anyone interested, Castro for Housing (a new neighborhood group to support increasing housing and transit options in the Castro) is organizing in support of the protected bike lanes on 17th St. We have a petition going on that has close to 100 signatures. There’s still a little bit of time before the hearing, so add your name if you support the SFMTA’s proposal!

    Link to the petition:

  2. sebra leaves says:

    Wow. Who knew removing parking spaces could cost $100,000 dollars. maybe there are cheaper ways to solve the problem of bike on rails, like moving the bike lanes to a nearby street without any rails? There is very little traffic on 18h Street and no rails for the couple of blocks that are on 17the Street. There are also not many merchants or businesses on 18th Street.

  3. keenplanner says:

    17th is the ideal route from the Mission to the Castro, or the Mission to the Wiggle, and beyond. There is a low level of motor vehicle traffic, compared to 18th and 16th streets. The big problem is the dangerous tracks. This plan would make cycling on 17th less stressful, safer, and more pleasant. I hope the lane gets built!

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