By Jonathan Farrell
The squeaky wheels of city bicyclists got some grease at City Hall on April 14 when the
SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA, or Muni) held a hearing to propose the
installation of a bicycle lane on Vicente Street.
There are several scenarios the SFMTA is looking at. One option would have eastbound
and westbound bicycle lanes on either side of Vicente running between
17th Avenue and the Great Highway, at Ocean Beach.
The proposal was presented as a series of potential planning options, such as “Class II
Bikeway – A, B, C and D.” One option that was illustrated on the SFMTA website
showed a lane on either side of Vicente from 35th Avenue to the Great
Speaking on behalf of the SFMTA, communications representative Erica Kato said
the purpose of the meeting “was to solicit public comment on the
But some local residents, like Nancy Wuerfel, said the meeting was not adequately
advertised and took it upon herself to alert the public to attend the hearing.
“The SFMTA has done a terrible job of informing the neighbors about the proposed bike
lanes on Vicente Street. The Transportation Engineering Hearing on April 14 was
premature, since most people had not seen a notice,” Wuerfel said.
“Flimsy paper notices were taped onto poles in early April along Vicente Street.
There were no maps that show exactly how the bike lanes, parking and traffic
lanes would be lined up on Vicente Street,” Wuerfel said.
“No protection was afforded the notices, no lamination.”
Wuerfel pointed out that rain storms caused the notices to be illegible and
some blew away. “A week before the hearing the notices
were partially or completely destroyed. Therefore, the public notice posting was
incompetently done with no regard to keeping notices intact for 10 days.”
Currently, city ordinances and regulations require the public to be notified of
any changes impacting the neighborhood. In some instances, such as zoning, sign
postings are to be made “at least 20 days prior,” according to SF Planning Code.
Wuerfel said she ventured out along Vicente five days before the hearing and
noticed only one intact notice.
Wuerfel also said she tried to reach the SFMTA by e-mail, but the e-mail
bounced back as “undeliverable.”
“I did have a telephone discussion with an SFMTA rep., in which he
promised he would put a contact name and telephone number on the notices to
be posted on Vicente so people could reach someone there. But, this was not
done,” she said. “It was disrespectful to the public.”
The proposed plans for Vicente Street would require road space to be “reallocated,”
significantly reducing the width of traffic lanes.
Charles Deffarges, a community organizer with the SF Bicycle Coalition, attended
the April 14 meeting. He supports the creation of a bicycle lane along Vicente.
“The most recent data released by the City shows that Vicente has repeatedly
been the site of collisions for people biking and serious or even fatal collisions for
people walking,” Deffarges said. Also speaking on behalf of the bicycle
coalition was communications director Chris Cassidy.
“The SFMTA’s plans for Vicente, including bike lanes, sidewalk bulb-outs
and shorter crossings at intersections, would improve safety for everyone using
this street. The schools and playgrounds on Vicente – and the families they attract – make
it particularly unacceptable to let known dangerous conditions persist.”
Cassidy gave an example of a dangerous stretch of Vicente, a steep hill between
15th Avenue and busy 19th Avenue, a major commute artery. St. Cecilia Church and
school is located on Vicente at 17th Avenue. While the school does have its own
safety patrol to help students cross intersections during the school day,
traffic is relentless.
Cassidy said he has some concerns about the SFMTA’s outreach effort.
“I understood that there was some room for improvement there,” he said.
Cassidy is looking forward to learning more about the public’s opinions about
the proposed bicycle lane plans at the SFMTA’s next scheduled meeting, on
Friday, May 5.
For more information or details about the meeting, go to the SFMTA’s
website at http://www.sfmta.com.