June 12, 2009

Trolling For Tourists And Locals Alike On Fisherman's Wharf

Original Wharf Street Design

It’s two steps forward, one step back for San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf Public Realm Plan as a proposal to "turn Jefferson Street into a single-lane roadway with [two] dedicated lanes for bicycles" has been reworked.

The latest plan allows for two lanes of traffic that would be shared with bicyclists, and it maintains large walkways for pedestrians and open-air dining. Street parking would be eliminated in favor of a plan that will direct motorists to rarely full parking garages.
Sidewalks would still be widened, addressing the no. 1 concern of visitors to the area: overcrowded walkways.

The goal is not only to ease tourist congestion, but to lure more locals to the Wharf.

UPDATE: Or perhaps one step forward and two steps back. From a bike riding reader:

No, I would just call it "two steps back." Jefferson St is the Bay Trail and this is the only gap in the miles long extremeley popular bike route that runs along the Embarcadero and then over to Crissy Field and across the GGBridge.
One of the whole points of this effort was to fix this gap and make Jefferson St a legitimate bike route to accommodate the throngs of people who try to pass through there on bikes (or heaven forbid, actually bike to FW, but we all know the restauranteurs don't want the business of anyone who doesn't drive a 1950s Caddy. Oh, the good 'ol days!).
Not to mention the fact that you have throngs of clueless tourists who naturally ride the wrong way on Jefferson assuming the waterfront route goes in both directions. This is pathetic.

San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf Public Ream Realm Plan [SocketSite]
Proposed plan aims to lure locals to Fisherman’s Wharf [Examiner]

First Published: June 12, 2009 8:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I think it's a good idea to widen the sidewalks and make biking easier. It will make the area much easier to navigate for tourists. I don't see this drawing locals though. That seems like a pipe dream. It will still be a tourist trap. However, it will improve the experience for us when we have to take visitors down there.

Posted by: Turin at June 12, 2009 8:49 AM

Widened sidewalks won't attract me to go down there. The place is simply a tourist trap and I don't see how that's going to change in a hurry.

Posted by: Amen Corner at June 12, 2009 8:56 AM

I like to bike and walk over there once on a blue moon. If I stop to buy something, it is usually a double double at the In 'N Out burger joint. Beautiful views a plenty from the piers over there.

Posted by: jamie at June 12, 2009 9:07 AM

No, I would just call it "two steps back." Jefferson St is the Bay Trail and this is the only gap in the miles long extremeley popular bike route that runs along the Embarcadero and then over to Crissy Field and across the GGBridge.One of the whole points of this effort was to fix this gap and make Jefferson St a legitimate bike route to accommodate the throngs of people who try to pass through there on bikes (or heaven forbid, actually bike to FW, but we all know the restauranteurs don't want the business of anyone who doesn't drive a 1950s Caddy. Oh, the good 'ol days!). Not to mention the fact that you have throngs of clueless tourists who naturally ride the wrong way on Jefferson assuming the waterfront route goes in both directions. This is pathetic.

Posted by: blah at June 12, 2009 9:52 AM

blah = typical bitter self-entitled san francisco bike rider.

Posted by: Adam at June 12, 2009 10:51 AM

I love going down to the wharf. Yeah, it's touristy, but it's the only place i can find where you can get candied apples. Plus the crab sandwiches are a great deal.

The plan to remove street parking is excellent. And I say that as someone who rarely agrees with the anti-driving crowd. The wharf is a perfect place for this due to the excess of off-street parking. We need to do more of this around the city in busy traffic corridors - build more garages in order to remove street parking. It makes streets more friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists while at the same time reduces congestion that impacts driving and transit times.

Posted by: DaveO at June 12, 2009 11:08 AM

@adam -- uh not really. I would say the business owners stuck in the 50s are the self-entitled neanderthals who oppose anything remotely good for the City or even their own businesses. These same business owners bitterly fought the construction of the F-line to Fisherman's Wharf, claiming it would discourage and delay their real customers -- car drivers. Of course it was built anyway over their vehement opposition, and of course it was overwhelmingly successful and was a tremendous boon (a lifeline, really) to their tired and dying businesses. Now they love it. It's the same old story again, but this time with bikes.

And I hardly see how making improvements to the Bay Trail -- a regional trail -- is something about SF bicyclists being "self-entitled." In fact, ABAG and other regional agencies have been pushing for its completion. It's a regional trail and a regional facility. I wouldn't call the Pacific Crest Trail something for "self-entitled hikers" or scenic Highway 1 for "self-entitled drivers."
Is the F-line or Caltrain for "self-entitled transit riders"? Give it a rest.

Posted by: realist at June 12, 2009 11:12 AM

blah,

Yup, tourists who rent a bike for the day very often come back from Crissy Fields or the GG and will fall into the Jefferson trap. Now that the path has been redirected to Beach street this is less common, but wait for that bleacher renovation to be finished and the lower path to be reopened... This section is counter-intuitive, proof something has to be done. Cycling SF is a great way to discover the city. Better than cars for some people.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at June 12, 2009 11:16 AM

I've ridden through that area hundreds of times and much prefer to ride on North Point. Less narrow, less car traffic, less tourists who decided to go biking for the first time in 20 years.

Posted by: anon at June 12, 2009 11:32 AM

Adam - Can you elaborate on your complaint ? If it is about the gap in the bike route, I don't see this as a self-entitlement but rather simply closure of a gap to complete the route.

It may be hard for motorists to notice gaps in bike and ped facilities but they do impede traffic and discourage usage of the route. A small gap might put an inexperienced cyclist into a situation above their abilities and many tourists are really beginners when it comes to cycling in traffic.

This particular gap isn't all that bad compared to others in the bay area. The biggest gap == the Bay Bridge. Smaller gaps but much more prevalent are those presented by high speed freeway interchanges which SF fortunately has few of.

For comparison of how a bad gap feels, consider if your automobile commute had a gap of a single block where you had to turn your car off and push for a block and then resume driving. The gap is small but the pain is high. You can bet that motorists will be detouring around that gap as well as screaming for the gap to be fixed.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 12, 2009 2:38 PM

I don't think the gap in the Bay Trail is that big a deal. I seriously doubt tourists are even aware of the designation. Much more important is street design and signage to accommodate cyclists. Reducing the width of the street is an good way to reduce car speed and make the street more inviting as well. The situation along the Embarcadero with inadequate markings and signage and buses and trucks blocking the bike lane is a more significant problem, IMHO.

I wouldn't have trusted SF to implement a contraflow bike lane in a heavy pedestrian environment anyway. Eastbound traffic on the Bay Trail using Beach is more sensible.

Posted by: amused_in soma at June 12, 2009 3:05 PM

It's not mentioned explicitly in the article, but what's being proposed on Jefferson Street is a shared street or woonerf. The design will slow cars down and make Jefferson much more friendly than it is today for both bikes and pedestrians. Fast moving commuting cyclists can stick to the bike lanes on North Point and bypass the area all together. Bike riding local and tourists who don't mind a slightly slower but more scenic ride can meander down Jefferson Street in both directions.

Posted by: urbanic at June 12, 2009 3:44 PM

DaveO - Please tell us: Where do you go for crab sandwiches?

Posted by: flaneur at June 13, 2009 10:17 AM

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