Bike_Lane.jpgRelated: First Completed Bike Lane Showcased in San Francisco Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony; Many More Miles to Come

Bicyclists are celebrating the opening of a new one-mile stretch of striped bike lanes on North Point Street near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

Tuesday’s christening of the lanes by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency marks the completion of the first of about three-dozen planned bike-friendly street modifications, SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said.

Members of the bicycle coalition rode a “victory lap” on the new stretch of bike lanes Tuesday afternoon. Cyclists then gathered at Pier 7 on The Embarcadero that evening to ride to North Point Street.

The route then took the cyclists west down the newly striped lanes to Van Ness Avenue, past Ghirardelli Square. The group then planned to double back to use the new eastbound bike lanes on North Point Street.

“This is such an exciting day,” Rivera said. “We are very happy to see that the city has moved quickly to get these first bike lanes on the ground and to get North Point completed,” she said.

Rivera said the San Francisco bicycle community will have “a lot more to celebrate soon” with the unveiling of new bike lanes on Townsend Street and Laguna Honda Boulevard expected later this month.

Each of those corridors will add about a mile of bike-only pathways to the city’s streets, Rivera said.

Planned bike-friendly upgrades, which were blocked for four years by a San Francisco Superior Court injunction sparked by concerns about the bike plan’s environmental impact, will nearly double the miles of bike lanes on city streets.

The North Point lanes connect The Embarcadero to Van Ness Avenue, creating an east-west corridor in the northeastern part of the city and allowing cyclists cruising along the Bay to easily access Fort Mason just west of Fisherman’s Wharf, SFMTA officials said.

Bicycle coalition polling has shown that one in two San Franciscans has said they would travel primarily by bike if it were easier and safer to do so on the city’s busy streets.

The 2006 Superior Court injunction halted projects outlined in the original bike plan–adopted in May 2005 — until the city and the bicycle coalition completed a full environmental impact report for the plan.

The injunction was partially lifted in November 2009, allowing 10 bike-friendly plans to be executed, including the installation of bike racks and striping of new bike lanes, including on Market Street.

A Superior Court judge found the city to be in full compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act on Aug. 6, lifting the injunction and giving the long-awaited projects the green light.

Rivera echoed Rose’s goal of having all 35 planned projects completed by the end of 2011, but also maintained a standing hope that the city will complete 15 of the projects by December.

“We’re asking for the city and MTA to really prioritize these projects between now and December and put all their available paint crews out,” she said. “We still think it’s a realistic goal and urge them to…make as many projects happen as possible by the end of the year.”

“We’re trying to get these done as soon as possible,” Rose said. “I can’t necessarily say they’ll be done by December, but we’ll move as fast as we can.”

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