Update: Biking on Valencia Is Still Kinda Not Great

As most Mission cyclists have known for years, riding along Valencia at rush hour is the real life cycling equivalent of Frogger.  The only way not to get doored, squished, swiped, or furious at everything is to just forgo the bike lane entirely and just take the lane.  It's a bummer experience that usually leaves motorists hostile over the perception we're slowing them down, but it's better than the alternative mouth full of blood and bill for a new front wheel.

Fortunately for us, the usually cycling-adverse watchdogs over at The Chronicle are now on the case:

[Cyclists] feel that heightened enforcement, especially during the evening hours, could help send the message that cars and bikes need to share the road and make all parties more aware of each other.

“I don't think they're doing enough to protect cyclists,” said Walsh, the registered nurse. “Why don't they hang a sign on every stoplight telling drivers to share the lane?”

Leaders of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition said they hope eventually to have separated bikeways on Valencia like the city already has in Golden Gate Park and is establishing along Fell and Oak streets.

“Simple white posts are really easy for the city to install,” said Leah Shahum, the bicycle coalition's executive director. “Anything to have full separation between moving car traffic. We hear anecdotally from folks it's a big difference.”

Separated bike lanes sure do sound great, but hopefully they are more of a Manhattan-style separated lane through the middle of traffic, rather than Golden Gate Park's that put us between the curb and row of parked cars (because, between aloof pedestrians, opening doors with no way to dodge them, slow cyclists you cannot get around, and sketchy navigation of stop signs, those lanes on Valencia would be a total disaster).

For more on the subject, see Stanley Roberts' always delightful People Behaving Badly segment on the topic, which coincidentally aired a few weeks ago:

Comments (14)

Yep, Valencia sure can be a clusterfuck, so that’s why I take Capp or Harrison. Capp is wide with very little traffic. Harrison is wide with a bike lane and very little traffic. Both beat Valencia hands-down for safety, and I’d rather give myself the extra 5 minutes to go a few blocks East than get doored on Valencia again like I did last year.

I’ve found that there are too many stop signs on Capp, and limited visibility at each intersection to safely Idaho through them… With the Green Wave on Valencia I can avoid stopping in general, going south at least; it’s too slow for going north with the downward incline. This presumes limited ignorant behavior from other street users, which is of course rarely the case. Luckily, 13 mph is still slow enough to pace a no-stop ride. Another benefit of Valencia over Capp is that the former usually has vomit in the bike lanes in the morning, but none in the evening, whereas the latter’s fecal surprises are less predictable.

I pretty much want to kill someone every evening when I bike home on Valencia, but I try to do my part by just pedaling along predictably, signalling and constantly scanning ahead to cut off problems before they have to, letting things go when I need to, kindly reminding bike lane squatters that a meter maid is just around the corner or hanging out behind them until they move along (my new psycho-powered front blinkie is amazing for this), then having a strong drink upon arriving home.

Happy riding!

I’d counter that while Capp is clearly superior for riding within the Mission, if you’re coming from Market, or riding any place south of the Mission (Bernal, La Lengua, Glen Park, etc.), it’s too much of a detour to be worth it. Valencia collides with so many other major bike routes that it’s pretty much the only option. (And, obviously, Harrison works great if you’re coming from South Park/Townsend, SOMA, or Folsom, but is a major pain in the ass to get too from Market/FiDi.)

Ahhhh, yes, within the Mission, Capp is definitely a viable option. I love Shotwell, too. I’ll stop now before this gets all Streetsblog-comment-y. Cheers!

The only way not to get doored, squished, swiped, or furious at everything is to just forgo the bike lane entirely and just take the lane.

Yeah, that would work – but so would using any nearby residential street, thus avoiding most of the traffic and taxi stops, and all of the commercial-delivery double-parkers.

I wonder what people did before bike lanes?

Talked on phone.

I would say, “Used their brains for something other than skull-filling,” but that’s pretty clearly not the case with some of them.

The thing is – bikes and cars are almost the same age, so it says a lot about the ultimate outcome of the conflict between the two of them that people universally regard cars as the more important transportation medium.

Just sayin’…

They slung their feces at others, while flailing their arms around making monkey noises. The more things change, am I right?

Aside for the Car versus Bike thing, there is a Department of Traffic and Tickets things going on. They are so fast to give expensive tickets for over time cars, that only marginally impede the flow of traffic, and seem to drive right past without a glance trucks and all that are seriously causing a backup in traffic. Bad priorities in enforcement.

But who’s going to deliver those locally-sourced, sustainable organic tortillas for Little Chihuahua to make $5.00 tacos on?

This bicyclist-writer has a problem with “slow cyclists you cannot get around”? Ha. that’s a good one. Maybe the writer should rather “share the lane” like car drivers are expected to. pfffft. Yeah. Lane “sharing”is not fun, is it? More like lane blocking.

Funny most people I know don’t have any problem moving just as fast (if not faster) than cars on Valencia, especially when there are double parkers (they tend to completely stop vehicular traffic). The biggest problem I have is that right turning cars do not signal, safely merge, then turn… they drive up to the intersection, then signal and stop in the auto lane hoping to notice everyone in the bike lane. At which time I have to go all the way around them to the left, because I don’t trust that I can be seen. At the same time too many cyclists still go to the right of cars slowing and lurching right with their right signal on.

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