Frustrations mount as delays to Fell and Oak bike projects push back completion date 

click to enlarge A separated bike lane on Oak Street has yet to be added. The bike lane on nearby Fell Street is still lacking physical barriers. - ANNA LATINO/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Anna Latino/Special to the S.F. Examiner
  • A separated bike lane on Oak Street has yet to be added. The bike lane on nearby Fell Street is still lacking physical barriers.

Repeated setbacks to bike-related projects on Fell and Oak streets might delay the final completion of the plans until the end of this year, further angering cyclists and community groups.

After years of contentious debate, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages traffic policies in The City, approved the projects in October. Along with adding bike lanes — separated from street traffic by physical barriers — 55 parking spaces would be removed and pedestrian safety enhancements like reduced crossing areas would be made. The bike lanes were scheduled to be installed by the end of last year.

However, the bike lane on Oak Street has yet to be added and there is no physical barrier separating bikes from traffic on the new Fell Street path, which stretches from Scott Street to Baker Street.

Ed Reiskin, transportation director of the transit agency, said temporary “soft-hit” pylons will soon be added to separate the Fell bike lane from traffic. However, the Oak part of the plan is much more labor-intensive and includes installing signage, removing parking meters and painting new traffic stripes.

Construction at a private business at Oak and Divisadero streets has hampered those efforts, and the Oak project might not be completed until the end of the year, Reiskin said.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said that’s unacceptable.

“I honestly can’t imagine why a project that is three blocks in length and quite simple in scope should be taking this long,” she said. “Multibillion-dollar plans like the Central Subway project are moving at a faster pace.”

Shahum said her organization is requesting that both projects be completed by Bike to Work Day on May 9.
Jessica Buchsbaum, a Mission district resident, bikes daily to pick up her 7-year-old son at school on Grove Street, just north of the Panhandle. She said she’s too nervous to bike on Oak since the separated pathways haven’t been installed. As a result, she uses the sidewalk.

“We’re waiting for you guys to take the steps to make that bike lane a reality,” Buchsbaum said at an SFMTA board of directors meeting Tuesday.

The North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association sent a letter to the transit agency Monday asking for projects to be completed, saying that without the finalized plan, conditions on Fell and Oak are dangerous.

Supervisor London Breed, whose district includes Fell and Oak, said environmental appeals have contributed to project delays. She said the transit agency has assured her that the projects are a top priority.

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Will Reisman

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