What was once a green wave has now become a red tide, as the excellent system in place on Valencia street that allowed cyclists and motorists alike to encounter a consecutive string of green lights so long as they maintained a steady 13 mph pace seems to have succumbed to some obstacles. MM reader Alex reports:
It used to be that I could zip straight from 25th to 16th (heading North, that is) on my bike without having to stop a single time, because the lights were perfectly set up to be a bitchin’ bike corridor. Now I always gotta stop around 20th and 21st. Why? Who killed the good light timing?
I’ve also noticed this alarming trend, not just on Valencia Street but also on 24th where the same 13 mph speed could be employed from Folsom to Valencia (and probably Guerrero) to get through every green light with plenty of time. Now I seem to always get stuck on Capp unless I seriously gun it.
Are these changes the result of some recent decision to move away from the Green Wave initiative, or could they just some random coincidence or malfunction that upset the timing of the stoplights? Anyone know what’s up?
One of the things I love about Valencia is how it accidentally became the best street in the city. It was a 4 lane highway with narrow sidewalks until 1999, yet commerce and culture still happened. 15 ft sidewalks with trees were not required. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on trees or outdoor seating, but I wonder if ditching the the grungy newspaper boxes and shitty sidewalks covered in stencil art will lead to more blight like this building. Valencia was always the little street that could. I cannot help but feel that city planners are over-engineering a great thing.
Construction is expected to last 9 months and will proceed block-by-block. From the DPW’s factsheet about the project:
A Renewed Valencia Streetscape between 15th and 19th Streets will provide sidewalk improvements on both the east and west sides of Valencia Street. Improvements include: removal of the striped center median, better spaced and more accommodating curbside loading zones for trucks, improved traffic/parking and bicycle lane alignment, sidewalk widening, bulb-outs, pedestrian scale lighting, art elements, bike racks, kiosks, and new street trees. The aim is to provide residents and visitors with safe and easy access to businesses, schools, shopping and regional transit connections, enhancing the sense of place with a unified ribbon of streetscape improvements. (link)
Most importantly, the city expects to install “bicycle oases.” From StreetsBlog:
One feature of the project will be unfamiliar to most San Franciscans: mid-block bicycle oases. “On the mid-block bulb-outs and a few of the other corner bulb-outs, we’ve actually planned bike oases,” said Opbroek. “There’s an example of this up in Portland, where they’ve done a space on the sidewalk with rows of bike parking.”
If the bicycle plan injunction isn’t lifted before the project is completed, however, there’s a chance the bike oases could be jettisoned. In that case, “they’ll have to be installed at a later date,” said Opbroek. “If for some reason that didn’t happen – I expect that it will, but if it didn’t – that space could also be used for tables and chairs or additional merchants spilling out.” (link)
Going through some old stuff looking for a photo to accompany this morning’s Rat-for-Cash Initiative post, I came across the following, detail from the art wall on Valencia between 23rd & 24th, shot a couple years ago: