San Francisco cyclists accustomed to the mixed-use path through the Panhandle to and from Golden Gate Park may someday be granted a lane of their own. Sure, protected lanes on Fell and Oak might not be as pretty as the current route inside the Panhandle itself, and the switch would make room for more riders and eliminate conflicts with pedestrians, joggers, etc, who also vie for use of the mixed-use path. But taking the temperature of cycling advocates and the neighborhood, StreetsBlog registers some tensions. A preliminary SFMTA study found that "Protected bicycle facilities parallel to the Panhandle have potential to provide additional capacity for travel by bicycle between San Francisco’s eastern and western neighborhoods, but would come with trade-offs in terms of on-street parking supply and/or vehicle travel delay on Oak Street." That would look like this:
As you can see, that would take what is currently four lanes of traffic and two lanes of parking and make it three lanes of traffic with two lanes of parking, including one lane of parking that serves, partially, as protection for cyclists.
One other option would be a single, two-way protected bike lane on either Fell or Oak, rather than two one-way protected bike lanes, one on each. That, the SFMTA postulated, would be more logical for Fell Street, which carries lower peak traffic volumes than Oak. The total cost for the project, they estimated, would be between $1.6 million and $3.9 million.
According to NOPNA News, a publication of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood association, that was all well and good. A survey of neighbors suggested that residents were in support of the addition of a protected bike lane. “After two months of gathering input, 700 plus responses came back with more than 70 percent of the respondents supporting a protected bike lane,” the newsletter claims.
To refute that, enter a new survey, covered here by Hoodline, which seeks more input from neighbors in the area. That's from a group called PRO SF, or Panhandle Residents Organization / Stanyon-Fulton, and the survey is supposed to be for residents only.
PRO SF's community organizer Tricia Stauber told Hoodline that "We felt it imperative that we become involved because the residents of this neighborhood will feel their impact directly... The goal of this survey is to gather information regarding neighbors thoughts and ideas about how they feel about having three lanes of traffic instead of four going from Baker to Shrader streets."
But a source close to StreetsBlog claims that PRO SF and their survey are just "trying to gather information to make a case for keeping Fell and Oak as they are — with four traffic lanes and two parking lanes."
On this subject, the parody account Bob Gunderson, who portrays an anti-cycling curmudgeon in the same way Stephen Colbert embodied a staunch conservative on his show The Colbert Report, couldn't help but weigh in.
An immediate change to the cycling infrastructure around the busy panhandle may not be necessary, but it won't be long before it's imperative, claims Melyssa Mendoza, a Bicycle Advisory Committee representative for District Five. "San Francisco’s population is growing more rapidly than our infrastructure and cycling is increasing rapidly as a method of transportation, according to the SFMTA," she wrote to StreetsBlog. "The mixed use path is adequate, for now, for commuters, pedestrians and more leisurely cyclists, but the path is getting more crowded as the population grows."SFMTA