Colored lane would improve safety 

Several parking spots could be removed to make way for The City’s first green-painted bike lane as part of a plan to improve conditions for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians traveling near a busy stretch of the Panhandle.

For years, motorists have been queuing up in the bike lane of Fell Street while waiting to get cheap gas at the Arco station on the corner of Fell and Divisadero streets, a situation that causes traffic snarls and endangers cyclists, according to Michael Helquist, a member of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association.

To help mitigate the effects of the congested area, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees parking policies in The City, has proposed removing four parking spots on the left side of Fell Street and painting the existing bike lane bright green, a move intended to signal motorists to keep a clear path for bicyclists, according to transit agency spokeswoman Kristen Holland, who said the plan was developed in conjunction with community groups, planning organizations and the office of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

Instead of lining up in the bike lane, motorists will be able to idle in the 240-foot space cleared out by the removed parking spots while cyclists can travel unimpeded to the right of vehicles.

The SFMTA introduced the plan at a community meeting last week, and none of the 60 people present at the gathering objected to the proposal, according to Helquist.

Neal Patel, community planner for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has advocated for changes outside the Arco, said the proposal was “a great step forward.”

“Bicyclists have complained about safety issues at that site for quite some time,” Patel said. “We think the MTA has come up with a pretty good solution to address those concerns.”

Although city officials have long been aware of the situation outside the Arco, finding solutions to the problem has been difficult due to a years-long legal injunction against any bike improvements in The City. The injunction was partially lifted in November, and under that ruling, the proposed improvements on Fell Street will be allowed, Holland said.

The SFMTA will hold a public hearing on the proposal April 2. If the plan meets approval at that hearing, it will go for full authorization through the agency’s board of directors.

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