May 8, 2024 - Business

Valencia Street merchants push to ditch center bike lane

bike lane

The Valencia Street center-running bike lane seen last year. Photo: Megan Rose Dickey/Axios

Valencia Street merchants are asking the city's transportation department to replace the center-running bike lane with a protected curbside one.

Why it matters: The center-running bike lane has prompted outcry from business owners who say it's resulted in people avoiding Valencia Street and from transportation activists who argue the lane — which is in the middle of the road— has created confusion and safety hazards among cyclists, drivers and pedestrians.

State of play: This week, the Valencia Corridor Merchants Corridor Association sent recommendations to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, outlining businesses' desire to replace the lane with protected bike lanes alongside the curbs.

  • The group also wants to restore left-hand and right-hand turns, do more to maintain parking spots in the area and more.
  • The SFMTA first installed the center-running bike lane, which spans eight blocks on Valencia Street, last August.

What they're saying: Business owners have previously said that the design has resulted in visitors and locals avoiding the area altogether.

  • "We have watched as dozens of our friends and neighbors have closed shop and know of a score more who are barely hanging on and likely to shutter in the coming months," the merchants' association wrote in the letter.

Context: In February, the SFMTA said it was considering other options for bike lanes on Valencia, including curbside ones, but that side-running bike lanes may require some businesses to move their parklets.

  • In that event, the merchants association asks that the city reimburse the businesses that are required to move, rebuild or demolish their parklets.

The other side: Erica Kato, a spokesperson for the SFMTA, said the agency has met with business owners for the last few months to get feedback on the "best options for a new alternative design," she told Axios via email.

  • She added that since each block has "its own needs related to roadway and curb space design," the SFMTA is working to "find the best solution to expand access to the curb and the Valencia Street corridor for everyone."

What's next: The SFMTA plans to meet with business owners throughout this spring and summer to determine next steps, Kato said.


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