Mayor London Breed announces significant safety improvements resulting from Valencia Street bike lane project

Pilot project virtually eliminated illegal vehicle loading in bike lane, reduced mid-block vehicle/bike interactions by 95%
August 09, 2019

Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) today announced initial results showing that safety conditions have significantly improved on Valencia Street following the implementation of the Valencia Street Pilot Safety Project. Mayor Breed encouraged the SFMTA to expedite the Pilot Safety Project in September 2018. Construction was substantially completed in January 2019, 10 months earlier than originally scheduled.

The data shows that the project has essentially eliminated illegal vehicle loading in the bike lane. Vehicle loadings in the bike lane dropped from 159 observed instances in October 2018, before the project, to two observed instances in May 2019. Additionally, there was a 95% decrease in interactions between vehicles and bikes at mid-block locations, which is traditionally where people who bike are at risk of being “doored” by a car door opening. Furthermore, 98% of bicyclists were observed using the bike lane or buffered area, and 84% of drivers were observed yielding to bicyclists in the mixing zones.

“Valencia Street was one of the most dangerous corridors in our City before this project, which is why I pushed to have these safety improvements expedited,” said Mayor Breed. “The data now backs up what we knew to be true—commonsense safety improvements dramatically reduce the risk of collisions and save lives. Our new quick-build policy will allow us to take action like this on streets that we know are dangerous, and then let the data inform how we improve those streets in the future.”

The results of the pilot project will inform changes along the rest of the corridor. Improvements on Valencia St. south of 19th St. are anticipated to be completed by spring 2020 under the SFMTA’s new ‘quick-build’ policy, which Mayor Breed pushed for. This policy allows the SFMTA to make temporary safety improvements as pilot projects, without having to go through the normal, exhaustive approval processes that takes years and is incredibly costly. This approach means the that SFMTA will use materials that can last for up to 24 months, bringing safety benefits to high-crash streets immediately. To ensure accountability, SFMTA engineers will report to the public about the efficacy of these projects and City crews can then modify or even remove road treatments that do not prove effective.

“We’re thrilled by the results on Valencia Street and know this is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to keep charging ahead to make the urgent changes to reach our goal of Vision Zero,” said Tom Maguire, acting Director of Transportation for the SFMTA. “The Mayor’s support is greatly appreciated and critical to keeping these effective safety measures within our sights.”

The Valencia Street project includes a fully parking-protected bike lane on Valencia Street from Market Street to 15th Street, which had the highest ridership count on the corridor and the highest injury rates.

“These numbers are further proof that infrastructure like protected bike lanes dramatically improves safety on our street,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition. “Now is the time to get to work fixing the rest of Valencia Street and other known high injury corridors across San Francisco.”

Mayor Breed has called for 20 miles of new protected bike lanes to be completed by the end of 2020, doubling the City’s previous pace. SFMTA is rapidly executing this directive. Just last week, the SFMTA completed a new one-mile protected bicycle lane on 7th Street between Townsend and 16th Streets.  Using the quick build process, SFMTA started the project in late May and substantially completed installation in late July, significantly improving bicycle connections between SoMa and Mission Bay.