SFFD and the SFMTA Compromise on Bike Safety

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

A long-delayed yet vital project on upper Market Street has now been altered, aggravating advocacy groups and cyclists.

…In July, notorious City Hall gadfly David Pilpel appealed the decision, stating that it needed to undergo environmental review. The issue landed on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda, and they voted to uphold the project without further review.

The money was budgeted, the plan approved. So why, five months later, has construction yet to break ground?

The issue is one that we all thought was resolved: The Fire Department has a problem with the plan. From the get-go, it has argued that the reconfiguration of Market Street to create protected bike lanes would interfere with ladder trucks in an emergency.

“The design materially compromises the safety of firefighters and local residents,” Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White wrote in a letter to the SFMTA earlier this year.

The main issue centers around the distance ladder trucks will be from buildings, if parking-protected bike lanes are installed. The width of the street, combined with Muni’s overhead wires, will make it trickier for firefighters to rescue people, and adds in the threat of electrical shocks, SFFD claims….

And looking ahead, the battle between safe streets and the Fire Department doesn’t appear to be closer to a resolution. When asked if this redesign will be applied to other areas where issues of parking-protected bike lanes and overhead wires are bringing the two departments in conflict, Reiskin said there is no sweeping plan to remedy the issue.

“It will be very much case-by-case,” he said. “The geometry of each street is different.”…(more)

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