A Valencia Street bike shop owner has launched an unlikely crusade. His enemy: a protected bike lane

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

The owner of a 35-year-old bike shop on San Francisco’s busy Valencia Street is driving a neighborhood crusade against an unlikely enemy: the city’s plans for a protected bikeway outside his store.

Valencia Cyclery owner Paul Olszewski wants to torpedo the barricaded lane idea, which he says would take 14 parking spaces out of the 29 on his block, along with a center turn lane that doubles as a loading zone. He spent hours last week hoofing up and down the 2-mile artery, knocking on every merchant’s door from Market Street, on the north end, to the southern boundary at Cesar Chavez Street

The consensus, he maintained, was clear.

“I canvassed over 100 merchants, and 99.9% of them are objecting” to the protected bike lane, Olszewski said Monday morning as he worked in his shop, a storefront packed into the bottom floor of a baby-blue Victorian in a crowded strip of restaurants and apartment buildings. Nearby, the owner of a stationery store was printing flyers for an open house-style meeting Monday night at City College, where critics mingled awkwardly with bike advocates…(more)

Too much too soon. Tech is slowing down. We need to protect and preserve the non-tech businesses that sustained during the last economic downturn.

Valencia QUICK-BUILD Bike Lane Project Concerns / Small Businesses United/ Pro Bike

Residents want to pause the quick-build to take community needs into account.


• Accessibility: The key to a vibrant small business corridor and the workers, clients, customers, and visitors who come there daily. The removal of the center lane and many of the parking spaces will make doing business difficult for the merchants on Valencia, as well as hinder access for tenants, workers, deliver vehicles, emergency vehicles. We also need to make sure clients/customers have access to our businesses.

• Mobility: Not all our citizens are mobility privileged. While we support bicycle safety, we are also concerned for our clients, customers, and neighbors who have limited mobility. We are interested in fair access for all who use the corridor.

• Transparency: Planning needs to include residents, small businesses, building owners, and emergency services, and these plans need to be available for public review and comment. Trying to push through a Quick Build with a week’s notice does not allow the community to weigh in on the needs of all.

• Safety: While we agree safety should be considered for bike riders, it must also include safe access neighborhood members who are unable to cycle. By pushing the parking into the lanes of traffic, drivers/passengers now have to exit into a lane of traffic. This particularly affects our mobility-limited community members; as well as families, pregnant women, and our aging community members. In addition, we must consider how emergency vehicles use Valencia Street and their continued access to respond to emergencies. Moving the parking spaces away from the curb will impair visibility for vehicles existing from business driveways and could very likely lead to people getting hit by bicycles while exiting their vehicles to get to the sidewalk.

• Aesthetics: Valencia Street (south of the experimental zone) currently offers room for all and spreads the vehicles out over the street. Moving vehicles to the middle of the street will create a steel “tube” running straight down the middle without anything to break up this view. We small business community not only want to maintain our clients’ access, but we also want Valencia to continue to be a vibrant destination, not turn into a monolithic conduit of vehicles (both bikes and cars) passing through on the way to somewhere else.

Residents want to know, “What is a quick-build project and why is it coming up now?” It there a pile of money burning a hole in the budget with a spending deadline? Which budget item does this project come under?