Polk Street bike accidents common, but safety upgrades meet opposition


When it comes to being a great place for cyclists, San Francisco is hard to beat. Gorgeous weather, a compact layout and an extended network of bike baths and bike lanes put San Francisco solidly among the most bicycle friendly big cities in America.Yet, that is not to say that area motorists always respect the rights of cyclists, or that there are not dangerous areas.Polk Street is one of the most hazardous thoroughfares in the city for cycling enthusiasts. While plans have been proposed to help reduce bicycle accidents on Polk Street, many area businesses have voiced strong opposition.

Businesses lament possible reduction in Polk Street parking options

Polk Street runs north-to-south into the center of San Francisco. According to an analysis conducted by the Bay Citizen, in 2010, 53 bicycle accidents, four percent of the city’s total bike crashes, occurred on Polk Street alone.

Polk Street does have bike lanes along part of its length, but some sections have only “sharrows.” Sharrows are lanes shared by bicycles and other types of vehicles that are marked by painted on decals. The decals are typically green and are meant to warn motorists that the lane should be shared with bicyclists, but sharrows are a far less desirable solution in terms of safety for bicyclists than designated bike lanes.

A Polk Street overhaul is currently being considered, but proposals have been hotly contested. One option that would allow for the addition of separated bike lanes on Polk Street in both directions met with vehement opposition from local business owners. Their problem with the proposal was that it would reduce parking space within a block of Polk Street by approximately 14 percent. A more popular alternate proposal would add sidewalk extensions for pedestrians and curbside “red zones” meant to increase visibility; this option would reduce parking by 5 just percent, but offers only sharrows in place of bike lanes.

According to a 2013 survey from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, a mere 15 percent of the people patronizing Polk Street got there in a private automobile. Yet, police data shows that Polk Street drivers are responsible for injuring an average of two people traveling by non-motorized means every month.

A San Francisco bicycle crash lawyer can help with after the fact accident solutions

While San Francisco remains bike friendly relative to many large cities, there is clearly much room for improvement, particularly on dangerous roadways like Polk Street. Even a moment of carelessness by a driver can mean a series injury for a cyclist.

If you regularly ride a bicycle in San Francisco, you may benefit from the safety upgrades to Polk Street. However, the watered down proposals would leave cyclists without the highest levels of protection, and if you have already been injured in a bicycle accident, your only option may be turning to the after the fact remedies available through a San Francisco bicycle accident attorney.

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