The peripheries of Bernal Heights have long been a place where forward-thinking streetscape infrastructure collides head-on with the gritty realities of urban life.
Once upon a time, The Bernal Cut was carved from the hillside of southwest Bernal as part of an urban freeway network that never got built, while Army/Cesar Chavez was widened to funnel traffic onto an East Bay bridge that never came to pass. We live in more environmentally sensitive times today, but the new bike lane on the La Lengua stretch of Valencia Street between Mission and Cesar Chavez shows that we haven’t lost our capacity to create well-intentioned traffic infrastructure that’s an albatross practically from the moment when it’s completed.
As you may recall, a new bike lane was a centerpiece of the recent effort to redesign our humble stretch of Valencia Street. Taking a cue from such famously bike-friendly cities as Copenhagen and Portland, Oregon, the Valencia bikeway was built as a dedicated lane for bikes that’s separated from the street and motor vehicle traffic by a small curb. The plan was quixotic from the outset, in part because traffic on that block of Valencia is already modest, but mostly because there was never really a plan to extend the dedicated bike lane farther down Valencia. So the 551-foot Valencia bike lane was always destined to be something of a white elephant, more or less by design.
Now that construction is done, the dedicated bikeway on Valencia has also become an object of ridicule, as frustrated cyclists have chronicled the follies of the many confused motorists who have parked their cars directly in the bike lane. And sometimes, in the lane next to it too:
In fairness to the befuddled motorists, some confusion was to be expected given that the old parking meters rmain in place next to the sidewalk, while no signs were installed to explain how the new (and locally unfamiliar) streetscape design was intended to work.
Not to worry though; local cyclists report that
SFMTA has come up with an effective way to educate motorists about the new streetscape, with help from a futuristic regiment of scientifically designed traffic cones.
CORRECTION AND UPDATE: Bernalwood is informed that the ridiculously effective traffic cones were NOT put in place by SFMTA. Instead, La Lengua’s rebel propagandist Burrito Justice installed the cones in a guerrilla action after seeing a pile of the cones sitting idle on the other side of the street.