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Controversial bike lane in San Francisco Mission District could be moved

SFMTA to hold public debate on controversial bike lane
SFMTA to hold public debate on controversial bike lane 02:14

A widely criticized bike lane that runs down the middle of a San Francisco street might be moved less than a year after it was installed.

It was a bold and different plan. Bicyclists would drive down the middle of Valencia Street between the lanes of traffic. The middle bike lane was installed last August between 15th and 23rd streets in the Mission District.

The purpose was to make cyclists feel safer and create an efficient artery up and down the mission. But it's faced criticism ever since. People in the area say it doesn't provide clear directions for bikers or drivers, creating confusion and danger.

The SFMTA is now seeking approval for a side-running bike lane from the city's transportation board. Two concepts are up for consideration:

  • One design would force cyclists to ride around restaurant parklets, bringing them closer to traffic.
  • The other design would have cyclists ride between the curb and the parklets.

 Some local business owners KPIX spoke with are fed up with the whole issue.

 "It's horrible. It's not an attractive part of the city anymore. No one wants to be here," said Sahar Milani, owner of Rossi Mission SF.

Kevin Ortiz, a member of VAMANOS, a newly formed coalition opposing the current bike lane setup, expressed the community's concerns. 

"We've seen 20 businesses closed, with Los Amigos being our latest, so I guess the question becomes how many more businesses have to suffer," he said. "The problem is that the SFMTA hasn't reached out to our organization, and we want to meet with them, but once again, they're basically doing outreach one week before the actual hearing, which is next week," he added.

"They don't ask us or discuss it with us, and then they ask people," said Eiad Eltaweil, owner of Yasmi Restaurant.

In fact, some business owners are filing a lawsuit with the city, upset about the loss of parking and other changes in the neighborhood. KPIX spoke with one cyclist today who sympathizes with their concerns, but has been enjoying the ride.

"Just purely from a biking standpoint, safer for bikes," said Craig Sakowitz, a cyclist.

Sakowitz said the bike lane in the middle minimizes the chances of being hit by a car door or running into pedestrians, but it also makes it difficult to turn onto other streets.

All of it will go into the next debate about moving the lane to the side of the street. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will be holding a public hearing on the issue a week from Tuesday, on June 18.

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