The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages all surface transportation in the city, announced the installation of the first “Bicycle Bay” in San Francisco to help bicyclists make a safer left turn from westbound Market Street to southbound Valencia Street. Bicyclists making this turn will no longer have to cross two lanes of car traffic and streetcar tracks to make this popular turn.
The bicycle bay (also known as a “jughandle,” given its shape) is the first of its kind in San Francisco. The bay allows bicyclists to stay safely in the bike lane to make a left turn. This is done by having a two lane bikeway with a through bicycle lane on the left, and an exit lane that leads into the bike bay on the right side of the through lane. Bicyclists then stop at a designated area in the bike bay and wait for the bicycle left turn signal to turn green so that they can complete the left turn. (See Figure 1) New signage on the approach to the bicycle bay will help bicyclists navigate the area. This project is part of the current City Bicycle Plan.
“Biking has grown 71 percent since 2006. We continue to build upon being the top bike friendly city in the country by ensuring safety, comfort and ease for riders, pedestrians and drivers alike. The new’ jughandle’ will provide easier access for crossing Market Street by bikers. Improvements like this will encourage present riders and new riders,” said SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan.
“The bicycle bay connects two of the busiest bicycle routes in the city,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “It allows bicyclists to safely make this turn with reduced risk of tires getting stuck in the tracks or conflicting with car traffic. This makes for a safer and more comfortable ride between two major corridors in the city.”
In other major bicycling cities, these bays have been shown to increase safety for bicyclists making left turns from one busy street to another. The SFMTA has adopted goals through its Strategic Plan to increase transit, walking and ridesharing trips and envisions bicycling trips rising two to three fold in the near future.
“We’re excited to see the new Market and Valencia turn in the ground. This intersection is one of the busiest for biking in San Francisco, and also one of the most intimidating. The new turn adds to the other great Valencia improvements of wider sidewalks, bike lanes and the green wave, which have welcomed more even more people to biking. We look forward to seeing how this common sense project improves the safety and comfort of the huge and growing number of people who pedal these key biking streets every day,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the 12,000-member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
The Market Valencia improvements are one of a series of projects that include bike lights to make it easier and safer to cross busy streets. Fell and Masonic, Page and Stanyan and Schrader and Fell all have bike lights. And lights were timed at bike speed, creating a “green wave” on Valencia Street and 14th Street.
Bicycles are a part of the city’s transportation and culture. According to the 2012 State of Cycling Report:
• Two statistically significant random surveys show that about 3.5 percent of all work related trips in the city are taken by bicycle
• San Francisco has a high share of residents who bicycle at least occasionally
• Unsafe bicycle riding behaviors remain infrequent overall
• Residents bike to exercise, to improve the environment and to enjoy outdoors. The most common trip purpose for frequent riders is the work trip
• People believe that existing bikeways are well-marked and are easy to access.