A Wobbling Effort to Accommodate Cyclists

By Scott James, The Bay Citizen
For The New York Times
January 27, 2011

Devoted cyclists like to brag that they will bike anywhere in San Francisco, regardless of daunting hills and traffic.

But there is one place you will not find cyclists: on two bike lanes created by the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency.

Most bike riders believe the lanes are just too dangerous.

They are called “sharrow” lanes: white bicycle-shaped graphics with directional arrows painted onto street pavement that instruct cyclists where to share the road with other vehicles. On two main thoroughfares in and out of downtown — Post and Sutter Streets between Van Ness Avenue and Union Square — the transportation agency has placed these lanes in the middle of busy, one-way streets.

This puts cyclists in the center lane of three, surrounded by fast cars on all sides. Cyclists tend to use one word to describe this idea: Crazy.

Joshua Citrak, an avid cyclist with 10 years’ experience on San Francisco streets, pedaled the route at the request of The Bay Citizen. An aggravated taxi driver who wanted to pass nearly hit Mr. Citrak, while other drivers tailgated and honked their horns.

“I would never ride in that lane again,” Mr. Citrak said, rattled. “I did not feel safe.”

He is not alone. On a recent weekday morning during rush hour, from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., a total of 37 cyclists were seen riding on Post from Van Ness toward downtown. Not one used the bike lane.

Instead, 35 cyclists stayed to the far right side of the road, which is normally where bike lanes are placed, but which on this street is reserved for buses and taxis. Two cyclists opted to ride in the left lane, which is intended for automobiles. Read more…

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