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Valencia bike lane will be kicked to the curb. But no one can agree when

A caution sign warns cyclists in a yet-to-be-completed bike lane.
Merchants of Valencia Street rejoice: the bike lane is being kicked to the curb. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

After almost a year of the griping over the Valencia Street center-running bike lane from bicycle activists, motorists and business owners, the city will finally kick the controversial pilot program to the curb—literally.

Moving the lanes could be done in weeks, but merchants who campaigned to have the lanes ripped out now say working on the busy corridor in summer, fall, or over the holidays would further hamper their businesses.

A preview of the not-yet-finalized plans was released Thursday. Surprise: It shows a conventional bike lane route along the curbside.

SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin said the agency’s center-running bikeway boosted safety and eliminated issues with curbside pickup and drop-off and by cyclists and pedestrians.

But it also led to confusion and “a variety of other impacts that we didn’t anticipate—but that’s why we do pilots, why we experiment: We learn and we pivot.”

The Valencia Corridor Merchants Association said Thursday it would need more time to review the proposed changes but cheered at news of the not-so-imminent change.

But it wasn’t just merchants who despised the center-running lane. Even transit activists, the world’s biggest bike lane fans, thought it was a poorly thought-out project.

Luke Bornheimer, a transit activist who staunchly opposed the bike lanes, thinks the city should move them “before the summer really ramps up, or before more people are injured in the center bikeway.”

A sign with hangs from a window of a bar that is closing its doors because of a controversial bike lane.
Amado’s bar, where a sign was displayed blaming the Valencia St. bike lane for the bar’s closure. | Source: Gina Castro/The Standard

John “Burrito Justice” Oram, who has previously called for the conversion of Valencia to a one-way vehicle roadway—dubbed “the Burrito Plan”—also has concerns about the planned changes.

“It’s better than the center-running lanes, though these side-running lanes are way too narrow,” Oram told The Standard. “While the center lane was flawed in many ways, it was wide and I could ride beside my kids, and other cyclists could pass easily.”

Valencia Street is among the city’s most dangerous roadways, the 12% of San Francisco streets that account for just over two-thirds of all traffic deaths and severe crashes, according to data generated by the city’s public health department as part of a “High Injury Network” study.

Still, Tumlin says the SFMTA will continue to work with businesses and will make the changes as soon as merchants are ready for them.