Thursday, June 16, 2011

Market Street Bicycle Boxes Disappear, Get Ignored

Magically disappearing bicycle boxes
    The green bicycle boxes and bike lanes along Market Street have been touted as a great first step to a Better Market Street.  I've used them myself once (since I generally crosstown commute from Ocean Ave to The Bayview) and found them to provide a level of assurance and safety I'd never felt riding in San Francisco before, but as I came out of Van Ness Station and waited to cross to Bank of America I noticed something peculiar.

    In many different locations approaching the intersection, and especially at dusk, these green safety boxes appear to disappear from sight. Just thought I'd throw that along. The real reason I came to Van Ness and Market was to see for myself how these traffic control devices were implemented, why they should be there in the first place, and how the public was responding to these new devices.

    I stood about 50 feet from the bicycle box on the outbound F-streetcar platform for 30 minutes. I conducted this mini-study at the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Market Street during a Friday evening commute, with direct sun glare from the west.  Here are my results:

Without glare bike boxes are clearly visible
Number of Cars: 274
Number of lead cars during red lights: 54
Number of lead cars ignoring bike boxes: 49
Number of Bikes: 141
Number of bikes utilizing bike boxes: 19
Number of bikes queued in crosswalk: 67
Number of cars running red light: 1
Number of bikes running red light: 8
Bicyclists along Market Streeet
    In short, bicyclists ignored the green bike boxes more often than drivers.  Bicyclists also ran the red traffic signal more often than drivers. Drivers, however, repeatedly accelerated to beat the yellow light, and caused congestion when making right turns into busy crosswalks. 
    Although these new roadway treatments that have been implemented on Market Street (and JFK, Fell and Oak by 2012) are currently NOT a legally recognized traffic control device within in the State of California,  I still firmly believe them to be an integral part of a safer transportation network for everyone in San Francisco.

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