Hutton Marshall | Editor
The Bankers Hill bike lane installed earlier this year on Fifth Avenue will soon extend eight blocks further north to Upas Street.
A continuation of the city’s “road diet” plan on Fourth and Fifth avenues through Uptown, the project will piggyback onto a current underground piping project on Fifth Avenue. One lane of traffic will be removed for the protected bikeway.
This project is part of the city’s Bike Master Plan, which is separate from the SANDAG Uptown Bike Corridor, a citywide plan that will encompass the same stretch of Fourth and Fifth avenues. Because of the relatively short lifespan of this road diet extension, Brian Genovese, an engineer in the transportation arm of the city’s Planning Department, called this plan an “interim bike lane.”
This is largely due to the type of bike lane the city will install on the street. The protected bikeway that the city is installing on Fourth and Fifth avenues creates a space barrier between bikes and cars. The SANDAG bike corridor, on the other hand, plans to create a physical barrier between cyclists and traffic. Genovese said this will require considerably more construction than the city’s bike lanes.
Regardless of the smaller scope of the project, Uptown Planners chair Leo Wilson said that because the city’s project proposes removing one lane of traffic, it should be subjected to CEQA review, a lengthy state-mandated environmental review required for many civic projects in California, because it may impact traffic flow by removing an automobile lane.
When asked if a CEQA review would be necessary here, Genovese pointed to language in the Bike Master Plan that states the project need only a LOS (level of service) analysis, which quantifies the delay vehicles experience due to a proposed project. Genovese said that the LOS analysis showed the bike lane extension wouldn’t cause a significant traffic impact.
The bike lane on Fifth Avenue, a northbound street, will be extended independently from the southbound Fourth Avenue bike lane because of the opportunity presented by upcoming pipeline projects on Fifth Avenue.
Genovese said that judging by these pipeline projects, the Fifth Avenue bike lane could eventually be extended as far north as Washington Street in Hillcrest. According to an informational flyer distributed by the city, pipeline projects on Fifth Avenue between Upas and Washington streets are scheduled to occur before fall 2017.