Traveling by bike is a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to navigate through the city of San Francisco. In fact, according to Bicycling magazine, San Francisco is the 8th most bike friendly city in all of America. They claim that to make the list, a city must “‘possess both a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture.” San Francisco must possess these qualities and more to achieve the number 8 spot on this highly coveted list. However, no matter how bike friendly San Francisco may be, it is a sobering fact that bicyclists often suffer from serious injuries due to bicycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2011, almost 48,000 cyclists nation wide sustained some type of injury. Therefore, it is good to know that San Francisco is taking special measures to make streets safer for bikers by installing a new contra-flow bike lane on Polk Street.
New Contra Flow Bike Lane Moves Against Traffic on Polk Street
The San Francisco Gate reports that starting today; bicyclists may ride in a new bike lane that that encourages them to ride in the opposite direction of traffic on Polk Street. This new brightly painted green lane is referred to as a “contra-flow” lane and is separated from traffic by a 6 foot wide raised island that is beautifully landscaped. Although this is not the first “contra-flow” lane in the city, it is special because it is the only one that is not only physically separated from the street, but is adorned with greenery. The San Francisco Bike Coalition is especially happy about the new bike lane and their spokesperson exclaimed, “even though it’s just a couple of blocks, it shows what a radical change a small improvement can make.”
Benefits of Contra-Flow Bike Lanes
The California Vehicle Code includes specific laws that bicyclists must abide by. For example, bicyclists under the age of 18 years old must wear a helmet when riding on a public road. Bicyclists are also required to use lights and reflectors at night. Typically, bicyclists are encouraged to ride their bikes in the same direction as traffic. Even on one-way streets, bicyclists may ride on the left side of the street as long as they are riding with the traffic. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) lists the following advantages to contra-flow bike lanes:
· Reduces conflicts by providing a separate facility to bicyclists traveling against traffic · Provides a direct route and improves street connectivity · Reduces travel time by shortening the trip distance and the number of intersections bicyclists must pass through · Decreases the likelihood that bicyclists will be caught in automobile traffic
Hopefully, we will see more contra-flow bike lanes throughout our city in the near future. Especially since the unveiling of the new bike lane could not come at a better time. Next Friday is Bike to Work Day and in honor of their 20th Anniversary; the San Francisco Bike Coalition has planned fun bike related events for the entire month of May. As Bay area’s prominent personal injury firm, we encourage all bicyclists to remain safe while on the road.
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