Last night there were only two items that generated discussion, both of which were referrals. The first of these was Vice Mayor Chan’s referral to have the City adopt the principles of “Vision Zero” which is a program to improve traffic safety. Many of the concepts in Vision Zero are ones that the City is already doing but it’s good to see this being formally looked at. A report on this will be ready by early next year.
One thing the City is already doing is restriping a number of streets to increase bike safety. This involves decreasing the width of the traffic lanes from 12 feet to 10 feet, and adding a buffer zone between the traffic lanes and the bike lanes. A good example of this is on Civic Center between Stevenson and Walnut. As a cyclist myself I know this makes one feel much safer biking alongside traffic. This is being done in concert with standard pavement maintenance. Thus, there is no additional cost to doing this since the pavement striping needs to be redone anyway after the pavement maintenance.
One idea I brought up was designating certain portions of traffic lanes as lanes where only one vehicle (bike or automobile) can be in that lane of traffic. This is important because there are many sections of roads where there is simply not enough room for a bike and a car to safely share that lane. If the cyclist tries to move to the right, they’re simply encouraging the car to try and squeeze through without providing a three foot clearance (which you should know is now required by law). Instead, the cyclist takes the middle of the lane and the vehicles may not pass the bike in that lane. I got this idea while biking in San Francisco. The street markings for this “sharrow” configuration are pictured here.
An excellent example of where this could be applied is on Mission Boulevard south of Stevenson where the roadway goes under the railway tracks. There actually was a fatality earlier this year at this exact location.