Vicente Bike Lanes Surprise Some

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

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