San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, supervisors and other city officials slapped down the first coat of green paint at a busy intersection today to inaugurate a renewed push to make San Francisco one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge last week ruled to partially lift a three-year injunction on the city’s bike plan. The case will return to court on June 1.
“Finally we got here,” Newsom told a crowd of bicycle advocates today at the corner of Scott and Oak streets, a busy thoroughfare and popular bike route near the city’s Panhandle, Alamo Square and lower Haight neighborhoods.
Newsom, supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Bevan Dufty and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency head Nathaniel Ford joined workers in splashing green paint over a section of roadway to create a “bike box” marking a protected area where bikers can stop at an intersection.
The intersection is along a well-traveled bike route known as the “Wiggle,” used by bikers to avoid hills between Market Street and the Panhandle.
The mayor’s office said the box is believed to be the first of its kind in California, a trial effort to last at least six months.
The city’s overall bike plan aims to add 34 miles of bike lanes to the existing 45-mile network; 75 miles of on-street bike routes with “sharrows,” stencils that demarcate shared use between cars and bikes; thousands of new bike racks and other improvements for bikers.
The plan was put on hold by litigants who are challenging the adequacy of the plan’s environmental impact report.
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum said today that the improvements “will welcome a whole new class of bicyclists.”
Since the partial lifting of the injunction, workers have added new bike racks and sharrows along the Wiggle, where bicycling has increased by 85 percent since 2006, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The mayor’s office said the ruling will allow for the completion of 10 of 60 planned bike lane projects–adding another six miles of lanes — as well as the addition of 350 bike racks and 2,000 sharrows.
Newsom said the improvements “could potentially be unraveled” but added that he did not expect the court to reverse the decision.
Despite the injunction, the number of bicyclists in the city has risen 53 percent since 2006, the SFMTA said.
Newsom called the city’s goal to increase the percentage of commuters going to work by bicycle from 6 percent to 10 percent in the next few years “eminently achievable.”
“We are all unified in the mission statement of making San Francisco bike-friendly,” said Mirkarimi, who has at times clashed with Newsom.
“Great things are going to happen now,” Dufty agreed, and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell added, “And we’re going to make it fun, and we’re going to make it funky,” prompting cheers and laughs from the crowd.