SFMTA engineers look to redesign center bike lane on Valencia Street

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

After months of complaints from business owners, and bike and pedestrian safety advocates, the controversial center bike lane on San Francisco’s Valencia Street will soon be ripped out.

And on Tuesday, SFMTA engineers laid out their proposal for what would replace it. But that new plan is already facing criticism  as well.

Almost as soon as the center bike lane was installed, critics began lining up to explain why it was a bad idea.

The restricted turning options for cars onto and off of Valencia, and re-designated parking spaces, only added fuel to the fire.

But Tuesday’s SFMTA meeting marked the beginning of the end of that center bike lane.

Bicyclists at the meeting say the new design is an improvement.  

“I think in general they are great. Curbside bikeways are better for business, they’re better for people biking and they’re better for safety and the planet,” Luke Bornheimer, a bike safety advocate, said.

The new design resembles the current stretch on Valencia from 15th Street to Market.

In that area, parked cars act as barriers between traffic and cyclists.

Business owners could choose to have their parklets moved away from the curb to also act as barriers, or leave them where they are — but that could come at the cost of parking spaces.

“If the parklet is against the curb we need to transition the bikeway around the outside of that, and that means one, to two, to three parking spaces removed,” Paul Stanis of SFMTA said. 

Some business owners are already raising flags about the proposed changes.

“It’s just going to destroy business. No left, less parking, taking away parkets, it’s not going to work,” business owner Eiad Eltawil said.

He has been a staunch opponent of the center bike lane. He even went on a hunger strike to draw attention to his dislike for the design.

Business owners say it turned the street into a nightmare for their customers to park and walk around.

They say bicyclists didn’t stop and shop either  because they say the center bike lane created more of a freeway for cyclists to speed by.

Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity for the full board to vote on green lighting this redesign process.

If everything goes according to the plan with the Valencia Street bike lane redesign the earliest it will be installed is in January 2025.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.