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Results show Valencia Street protected bike lane ‘dramatically’ reduces risk

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Ching Wong/SFBay
Protesters hold a banner during a rally to demand safe bike lanes at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (Ching Wong/SFBay)

With San Francisco reeling over 20 traffic fatalities so far this year, Mayor London Breed was able to share some good news with results from the Valencia Street Pilot Safety Project completed in December of last year.

The mayor and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced Friday initial findings from the protected bike lane project that showed illegal vehicle loading had nearly been eliminated on a stretch of Valencia Street. The number of violations dropped from 159 in October 2018 to just two in May 2019. Data was collected by SFMTA staff.

Additionally, there was a 95 percent decrease in interaction with bikes and vehicles at mid-block locations along Valencia Street — an area where drivers are prone to opening their doors and hitting bicyclists. 

Ching Wong/SFBay Protesters hold a banner during a rally to demand safe bike lanes at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (Ching Wong/SFBay)

Breed, who demanded the SFMTA complete the buffered bike lane pilot project last September, said in a statement:

“The data now backs up what we knew to be true — commonsense safety improvements dramatically reduce the risk of collisions and save lives. Our new quick-build policy will allow us to take action like this on streets that we know are dangerous, and then let the data inform how we improve those streets in the future.”

The parking-protected bike lane stretches on Valencia Street from Market to 14th streets. Transit officials will use the results of the pilot to guide future Valencia Street improvements south of 19th Street.

Those additional improvements are expected to be completed by Spring 2020 under the SFMTA’s “quick-build” policy, which allows the transit agency to install street safety improvements with tools they already have available, such as paint, posts, signs, meters, curb markings, traffic signal timers and transit boarding islands.

By cutting out the lengthy process usually associated with installing permanent changes, improvement work would be completed in a matter of months. Quick-build changes are meant to last only two years, after which SFMTA staff reports back to the Board of Directors for further direction regarding permanent street changes.

Interim SFMTA Director of Transportation Tom Maguire said in a statement:

“We’re thrilled by the results on Valencia Street and know this is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to keep charging ahead to make the urgent changes to reach our goal of Vision Zero.”

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