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Friday, May 6, 2011

San Francycle: Getting Ready for Bike to Work Day

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2011 at 7:58 AM


The city's frantic bike network upgrades in the last two weeks remind us a bit of the flurry of last-minute activity before the curtain goes up on a new play. Paint that set! Strike those lights! No time to sew the costumes, just use staples!

What's all the hubbub about? It's Bike to Work Day, of course, Thursday, May 12.

In a city like San Francisco where so many people already bike to work, it sometimes seems a little silly to call it Bike to Work Day, as if there's only one day for it rather than 365. But it's nice to have a focal point where we're all out on our wheels, doing what's right and learning that skipping Muni means getting to all of our meetings on time.

So, is everything in place for this year's event? It sure seems that way.

Over the last two weeks, the city has been laying down green paint on Market Street like it's going out of business. Marvel at the new green stripes! They are quite nice.

Also new: lane markings that make it much easier to see where you're supposed to be when you approach an intersection.

If we had to quibble, we'd request more soft-hit posts to physically separate the lanes from vehicular traffic. But all in due time. This year, it's nice just to have a partially continuous ribbon of green along the city's most heavily used bike corridor.

And the city just flipped the switch on a much-needed new signal at Fell and Scott streets. You know the intersection: the left turn from hell, where you're expected to just hang out at the crosswalk while cars zoom past you on Fell toward Divisadero.

Well, now there's a working left-turn light that gives you a few seconds of dedicated turning time. That won't help impatient cyclists who don't want to wait, but it's a blessing to the safety-minded among us who don't want to get flattened by a distracted driver.

Now, thanks to the new light, you have some dedicated time to make that turn, instead of having to worry about oncoming traffic cutting you off as soon as the light turns green.

And if we had to quibble again -- which we don't, but we like doing it anyway -- we'd suggest eliminating southbound vehicular traffic on Scott Street altogether. Turn the whole western half of the street into a bike lane, put up a little traffic island to prevent cars from going south down Scott Street, and hey, everything's perfect. Cars can still access the street, if they must, by driving around the block and coming up north; but on a quiet residential street like Scott, hardly anyone would really need to.

Oh, do we have time for one more quibble?

In the midst of all these improvements, the city seems to have taken one mystifying step: It actually narrowed a bike lane slightly at Market Street and Duboce Avenue. The eastbound lane has shrunk by nearly a foot. You can still see where the old boundary is, since they had to grind it out of the pavement. What gives?

But aside from that, all the bike stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Volunteers are recruited (if you want to lend a hand, there's still time), the dress-up challenge has been issued, the Energizer Stations (featuring free goodies) have all been mapped out, and the evening fashion show at the DNA Lounge is on everyone's calendar. (Ooh, one more quibble: There's no bike parking at the DNA Lounge! Every time we ride over there, the door guys tell us not to lock up at the meters. Somebody get on that.)

All that's left to do now is get a job!

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Matt Baume


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