If you believe the SFMTA, the new Valencia Street center bike lane has been a smashing success. But businesses say it has smashed their revenues, and some bicyclists say it’s uniquely dangerous, so SFMTA is considering redesigning the whole thing.  

The new center-running Valencia Street bike lane debuted over the summer, and ever since, businesses have been complaining that its driving off customers, and some cyclists say that it’s causing accidents with its unconventional layout.  So the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) recently hinted they might overhaul the whole thing, based on some sort of internal report data they said was in the works.

Well, that report came out yesterday, according to Mission Local. And SFMTA touts their data in it to say that the bike lane has been a rousing success. It claims the new bike lane has been “very effective” at minimizing dangerous conditions for cyclists. “There are fewer cars blocking the bike lane forcing bicyclists into the road and fewer dooring incidents,” the report adds. “Many cyclists have reported a more comfortable experience and a less stressful ride.”

It also touts a 77% decrease in cars being parked in the bike lane, which would seem logical, since the lane is in the middle of the street where most people would not think to park.

The report is not a complete picture, as it only measured a three-month period between August and October. And it would not have included Sunday’s incident of the “dirt bike gang” popping wheelies in that center bike lane.

“We basically eliminated the conflicts between double-parking motorists and bikes. We provided safe spaces for cyclists, and we significantly reduced the types of collisions that we had been seeing pre-COVID,” SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA director told reporters Thursday, according to KQED.

But Valencia corridor small businesses have been near-unanimous in their displeasure with the bike lane (or at least those that have spoken with the press). They say that the elimination of parking spaces for the new bike lane has driven down their foot traffic. SF Bar Owner Alliance founder Ben Bleiman wrote an op-ed in SFGate this week saying that Valencia Street now feels “like the set of a zombie movie, with almost no one on the street.” That may be a stretch, but we do see Valencia Street businesses with signs in their windows saying, “This bike lane is killing small businesses and our vibrant community.”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

And Tumlin acknowledged the SFMTA would very likely change the design, based on feedback. “We’re getting the sense that there is a lot of interest in pivoting to a side-running protected bike lane,” Tumlin told KQED.

Image: SFMTA

Yes, SFMTA is considering the protected curbside lanes that many transit advocates have been calling for. The above images are from Oakland, but they’re in the full SFMTA report. These show a design that’s called the “floating parklet design” where parklets would be between the bike lane and car traffic. They’re also talking about a “curbside parklet design” where the bikes would weave around the parklet.

The SFMTA board will have a hearing on this report at their 1 p.m. meeting this Tuesday, February 20. But there’s no guarantee they will decide anything at that meeting. And whenever they do decide on any changes, it would take an estimated seven months of planning and construction to make those changes.  

Related: Valencia Street Center Bike Lane Causing Confusion, Exasperated Shops Say It's Ruining Business [SFist]

Image: SFMTA