November 10th at HANC: The Panhandle: Playground and Dedicated Bicycle Lanes on Oak and Fell

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By James Sword, HANC President

HANC's monthly (except August) general membership meeting is held downstairs at the Park Branch Library, 1833 Page Street (between Cole and Shrader) on the second Thursday of the month, beginning at 7 pm.  Our meetinngs are open to the public and free to attend.

Once again, our next HANC general meeting will focus on the Panhandle. We will begin with Anne Baskerville, Project Manager for SF Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD), updating us on the Panhandle Playground. We will then continue the meeting by discussing the planned Oak and Fell bicycle lanes. HANC has invited representatives from SFMTA, SF Bicycle Coalition, and other groups to attend and/or present at our November meeting.

In the May Voice we first wrote about the Proposed Oak and Fell Bike Lanes. NOPNA published a data analysis from the survey they sent to a select group of emails in March. HANC was not invited to participate in this survey. Inner Sunset Park Neighbors (ISPN) was not invited to participate in this survey. To whom was the survey sent? NOPNA and the Bicycle Coalition? Given that HANC represents residents south of the Panhandle, and that ISPN represents residents who would suffer significant traffic delays if Oak street is reduced to three lanes, this is concerning.


After lobbying from SFBC and NOPNA, SFMTA completed a feasibility study for this project. We see this and the lack of involvement of other neighborhood groups, as an indication these lanes are being pushed through for implementation without full stakeholder involvement.

As a reminder, here are concerns HANC raised when first meeting with NOPNA and SFBC representatives. These concerns have still not been addressed.

  • No outreach has been done to residents who are not part of NOPNA
  • No outreach has been done to residents and merchants of the Inner and Outer Sunset.  
  • Cyclists wont stop at minor intersections for red lights, as cars do. This will create a hazard for pedestrians crossing north-south across Oak and Fell streets.

Many of our concerns have indeed already been raised in the SFMTA feasibility study as probable outcomes. The most concerning statements include:

  • “For the protected bike lanes to be an attractive alternative to the multi-use path, they should be excluded from signal control at the three-legged intersections along the park.” (All intersections except Baker, Masonic and Stanyan)
  • “…removing one of the three general travel lanes on this section of Oak Street would result in lengthy queues on Kezar Drive spilling back to Lincoln Way for several hours a day and diversion of several hundred vehicles to alternative east-west routes or to local side streets during the weekday morning peak period.” (increasing travel times and neighborhood congestion)
  • “…disallowing left-turns from Oak Street during the north-side pedestrian (and new bicycle) phase would result in left-turn queues spilling back multiple blocks for at least an hour during the weekday morning peak period. Combined with the reduction in through-lanes upstream from four to three, such queueing would disrupt the traffic progression along the corridor… [and] result in additional congestion.”
  • “Pedestrians would be required to wait for gaps in bicycle traffic to cross the protected bike lane (which may present new challenges to people with low or no vision).” (not to mention those with strollers, mobility concerns, and the elderly)

One solution suggested in the study, to help minimize traffic back up, is to have the bike lane along Oak wedged between the left turn lane onto Masonic and the #1 lane on Oak solely protected by delineator posts. As a cyclist myself, and often with a child on board, the proximity to cars driving 30-40mph is concerning. How does allowing bikes to travel at higher speeds without stopping but once along the panhandle, and requiring pedestrians crossing north-south to yield to cyclists, meet Vision Zero?

Alternatives have been raised by HANC.  These  include: 1) widening the multi-use path and creating a designated pedestrian only path adjacent, and 2) widening the southern pedestrian path to accommodate one-way eastbound bike traffic while limiting the current multi-use path to one-way westbound bike traffic.

HANC is not against bicycling (I commute 3-4 times/week by bike). It is a great alternative mode of transportation. However, HANC feels we should not create hazards for pedestrians, the elderly and the disabled. By creating bike lanes on major east-west commuting streets, and not better engineering the Panhandle pathways, we continue to allow SFRPD to neglect the Panhandle (despite efforts by NOPNA, PROSF, and HANC).

Join us at the HANC general meeting on Thursday, November 10, at 7:00 pm, at the Park Branch Library, 1833 Page Street.

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