A couple weeks ago, Sarah and I went to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Connecting the City presentation at David Baker’s office. As avid supporters of safer streets for pedestrians and bicyclists, we left this presentation totally inspired. There were many topics of discussion that stuck with me, but I’ll stick to mentioning the most exciting ones.
Share the Bikes – I caught wind that a bike share system was coming to San Francisco and along the Caltrain corridor. I’ve been waiting for this! Bikes seem like an extension of our American love of private vehicles; providing community bike use would be a huge help in bridging our transportation gaps and making bike commuting less of a commitment of the hardcore and gear-heads. Partnerships with BART, Muni, Caltrans as well as the larger, cutting-edge office spaces seem critical to success.
Share the roads – There was a lot of discussion that hinted toward giving over entire streets to more dedicated biking. That resonates with me. Although it seems more of a battle to make it happen, it also seems inevitable if we are to rely more and more on bikes. There is only so much separation that white paint and even planted medians can provide when bikes are alongside cars and pedestrians. I would rather share a whole street with cars if I knew they could only go as fast as me (traffic calming, speed limits, street surface and bulb outs) instead of have my own lane right next to 30 mph trucks. Two way commercial streets like Market, Valencia, and Polk seem less and less useful for vehicle traffic anyway – the only reason to get on those streets is to park or deliver. When I drive, I do so on Guerrero then cut over to Valencia to park. When I bike I go on Shotwell and avoid Valencia altogether, even with the awesome bike lanes.
Enable Private Contribution to the Conversation – Some regulatory and pilot programs like the Parklet Initiative would go a long way toward inviting individuals to have ownership in the design and planning of the public spaces in their community. Find ways to allow individual design for things like bike racks, bike lane separations, etc. It would encourage quick and iterative experimentation – one of the healthier ways for a city to develop.
Tomorrow, the SF Bicycle Coalition is holding a bike tour of the parklets, starting at the Four Barrel parklet. You’ll see me and Sarah there – it’s supposed to be a beautiful day, you should join us.