Embarcadero Bike Conditions

The Embarcadero is now the fourth most traveled cycling corridor in San Francisco.  And with the corridor’s rise in popularity has come a rapid increase in conflicts between pedestrians, bikes and cars.  Added to this are “concerns for a lack of cyclist compliance with road rules, which further compromise public safety,” according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

In fact, portions of The Embarcadero now appear on the WalkFirst “High Injury Network,” corridors that account for 60 percent of the severe and fatal pedestrian injuries within San Francisco despite representing less than 6 percent of the city’s roadways.

In an attempt to increase “the safety and comfort of travel” along The Embarcadero, the SFMTA is about to launch “The Embarcadero Enhancement Project,” a project to develop a dedicated bikeway along The Embarcadero, from AT&T Park to Fisherman’s Wharf.

A bikeway, also known as a cycle track, is a physically separated bicycle facility that is distinct from both the roadway and the sidewalk. By separating cyclists from other road users, bikeways can offer a higher level of security than traditional bike lanes and attract a broader spectrum of the public, including tourists, children and less confident people on bicycles. These facilities can also increase safety and comfort for all road users by minimizing potential conflicts between those on foot, bicycle or in a vehicle, and by adding predictability to roadway operations.

Potential concepts for the Embarcadero Enhancement Project include:

  • A two-way bikeway on the water side (either within the roadway or on the Promenade)
  • Two one-way bikeways, curbside, on either side of The Embarcadero
  • Two one-way bikeways, in the center of the roadway adjacent to the Muni right-of-way
  • Two-way bikeway in the center of the roadway adjacent to the Muni right-of-way

A series of public workshops will be held over the next year to develop design alternatives and a recommended design is expected to be ready by Fall of 2015.  The SFMTA’s open house to kick-off the project will be held on July 24, from 6-8 pm at Pier 1.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by moto mayhem

    a cheaper option would be to ticket the cyclists who plow through pedestrians, run lights and speed

    • Posted by Brad

      Ditto for drivers who park in bike lanes.

    • Posted by Entitled Americans are annoying

      The cheapest option would be to stop subsidizing the costly roadways, petro, pollution, health, and ecological costs that entitled drivers like yourself take for granted.

      • Posted by Puhleez

        @ entitled americans are annoying

        Funny name for someone who obviously feels so entitled they take offense when someone suggests cyclists should refrain from being total pricks.

  2. Posted by Ep

    A cheaper option would be to ticket the drivers who plow through pedestrians, run lights and speed

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      i doubt many drivers are speeding on embarcadero as its pretty packed. cyclists are a big problem on the sidewalks.

      • Posted by S

        this particular sidewalk is part of the bay trail so cycling is actually allowed, though of course no one should be going very fast since there are pedestrians present.

        my real issue with your comment is that you obviously don’t cycle on this or any road in SF on a regular basis. It is actually dangerous, in part because of cyclists who don’t follow the rules but also the drivers who fail to yield, look where they’re going, speed, and run stop signs.

        Even when there’s traffic on Embarcadero, you have cars jut into the bike lane without looking so that they can look ahead at what’s going on or they decide at the last minute to turn right. I hope this gets built as it will reduce conflicts between peds and bikes on the path and bikes and cars on the road.

      • Posted by Brad

        You don’t have to be going fast to knock over a line of cyclists. Creating a separated space for cyclists is far and away the safest for all involved.

      • Posted by roymeo

        The embarcadero promenade is a mixed use path/promenade and part of the SF Bay Trail. There have been “Bikes belong here” or somesuch signs in the past noting that bikes are allowed there.
        But I stick to the bike lanes on the street when I’m really booking or the promenade is densely packed with peds.

        • Posted by Brian M

          Yep. Of course, as a demonic cycling scofflaw, I will then hop onto the pathway to avoid red lights. I know that this is the very DEFINITION of EVILLLL, but there ya go!

  3. Posted by Dan

    Cyclists are allowed to ride along the waterfront– they are shared pedestrian/bike paths, though they don’t have room for both on weekends.

  4. Posted by Bay Guy

    You should live in the Inner Sunset if you want to see Cyclists not bothering to follow the rules of the road…

    • Posted by S

      omg irving has some of the worst driving I’ve seen in my entire life LOL

      judah used to have a stop sign every three blocks. those stops that are there now out of that pattern are because someone got hit by a car

    • Posted by Brian M

      OBEY, sheep.

      seriously. if the rules of the road are stupid, bleating about obedience is questionable at best. My town used to put stupid stop signs at suburban cul-de-sacs with five houses on them. I am not going to “obey the law” by stopping,taking my feet out of the pedals, putting them on the ground, then reversing the process.

      Nor am I going to plow through a signalized intersection and kill a pedestrian, either. Common Sense.

      • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

        just remember that kids are watching you and look at all adults for guidance. They do not see the relevance of obeying a law or the specific context. They see an adult breaking a rule their parents told them was sacrosanct. Not that every kid will follow what we do, but all it takes is one at the wrong place at the wrong time. For THAT reason alone I respect all traffic lights and stop signs.

        Not stopping, and for what? 10 seconds? 20 calories? A few drops of sweat? exercise is good for you.

      • Posted by Puhleez

        @Brian M.

        You can’t call us sheep if you don’t even know the real source of your trendy OBEY mantra. Sorry, but you can’t be the follower of followers and call us all followers.

  5. Posted by tj

    The issue of where to place cyclists relative to walkers and cars is especially difficult because cyclists are a widely differentiated group. On the one extreme you have commuters and road cyclists whose primary concern is getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible and on the other extreme the tourists and the ends of the *8 to 80″ age group whose primary concern is probably safety. The range of solutions proposed differ by the cycling subgroup for which they are targeted, with no single proposal being very effective at satisfying all. While separate “cycle tracks” may provide safety for the “broader spectrum” to which they are targeted, they are not a good solution for commuters or road cyclists, especially in tourist-dominated areas where most walkers are not cognizant of their immediate surroundings. While combining walkers and cyclists is never a good idea (why the Golden Gate Bridge still does this during daytime hours is incomprehensible to me), perhaps a two tiered system keeping and extending the existing on-street lanes for faster riders and a separated two-way lane for others would is this case be appropriate.

    • Posted by Gordon

      I ride across the GGB all the time and I think they do a great job separating cyclists and pedestrians. The eest side is cyclist-only and the east side bans cyclists during the most popular hours. And even during hours when bikes are allowed on the East, what sort of cyclist would choose to dodge all those slow-walking, picture-posing tourists when we have a dedicated and protected lane on the west. If it happens much now, I think it’s only due to the current bike trail construction detour which may confuse tourists about how to get over the bridge.

      • Posted by BobN

        They should squeeze a bike lane between the supports below roadway. (Yes, there’s a problem when you reach the pylons).

      • Posted by Dubocian

        I think you mean “the west side is cyclist only.” And that’s true, when it’s open, but the west side is only open on the weekends, so far as I know. During the week you have to ride on the east side and compete with pedestrians.

    • Posted by Alai

      The fast moving ones can use the road with or without bike lanes. They’ll manage. An Embarcadero cycletrack should definitely be focused on the tourist and family segment.

      (I think the GGB does that during daytime hours so that the west side can be reserved for bridge workers.)

  6. Posted by Stew

    As a regular biker on the Embarcadero, I can say that while many cyclists don’t follow the rules, it is extremely hazardous to bike on this roadway. Nearly every block, bikers are forced to merge into crowded roadways because cars, taxis, etc double park on the bike lane.

    • Posted by Brad

      This is an issue with all unprotected bike lanes. They become nothing more than temporary parking lots, forcing bikes back into the road and creating further tension.

    • Posted by Rocco

      You’re on the road and part of traffic. Drivers have to contend with crowded roadways, taxis and cars discharging and picking up passengers– why should cyclists be exempt from that? How many times have you screamed to a driver trying to make a right turn when he’s gotten to intersection first? Cyclists are not a “special class.”

      • Posted by Futurist

        But in San Francisco they all think they are.

      • Posted by bus rider

        Motorists have limited access freeways for their special use. Bicyclists aren’t welcome to share these faster routes. In urban places, separated bikeways make sense – for safety and to improve alternatives to driving and transit.

        • Posted by Anon

          “motorists” include city service vehicles such as FIRE, POLICE, sewer and electrical repair trucks, cable/phone/data, and don’t forget deliveries such as FOOD, as well as cars, busses, etc.

          The silly feeling of entitlement by bike riders who don’t want to share public streets which by law are to be available to everyone is silly. It has been posted before that drivers more than pay for the cost of construction and repair of roads, especially through fuel and registration fees.

          • Posted by NoeValleyJim

            Drivers are massively subsidized and don’t even come close to paying their fair share of costs.

          • Posted by Anon

            Oh please, every time that GOOGLE bus heads down the freeway it rides on a “subsidized” road. So transit and the SFMTA is “funded”, but drivers are “subsidized”. Even though links were posted earlier on this thread showing that drivers pay their own way tax wise compared to transit riders which are heavily “subsidized”.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            Where are these links that you refer to?

            Also just because city vehicles drive on subsidized streets doesn’t mean that individual drivers aren’t also benefiting from the subsidy. Sounds like flujlogic at work here.

          • Posted by NoeValleyJim

            There are no links on this thread. Anon is further off his meds than usual.

          • Posted by NoeValleyJim

            myth: Bike riders don’t pay their
            fair share for the roads.

            reality: The perception that our
            streets and highways are completely paid for
            through gas tax and other driver user fees is a
            relic of the 1950s. Times have changed — a lot.
            The gas tax has stayed stagnant since 1993 and
            cities and states have turned to local taxes and
            streets bonds to cover the cost of road repairs.
            As a resident of San Francisco, you pay for
            our city streets when you purchase items at the store, shell out
            for your state income tax or pay your property taxes. In fact,
            you’re paying MORE than your fair share. A study by
            economist Todd Littman found that in the U.S., the average
            driver travels 10,000 miles in town each year, contributes $324
            in taxes but costs the public $3,360 each year. By contrast,
            someone who bikes everywhere contributes an average of $300
            but only costs the public $36 in road costs. Thanks for more
            than paying your way!

  7. Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

    A few issues with cycling on the Embarcadero:

    – Path is too narrow. Cars zooming by way too close as a result.
    – Fast riders will not stop for lights on the northbound side. I do, and sometimes riders will almost hit me. The reason they do not feel like stopping: traffic lights are for pedestrians to cross on that side and some cyclists confuse traffic rules with their own safety. If they feel a traffic light does not add to their safety, they will not respect it. {begin rant}What about pedestrians, morons? {/end rant}
    – Cabs or Ubers do crazy maneuvers at the cruise terminal. They have no choice sometimes.
    – Pedicabs use more space which can be an issue
    – There is no perfectly safe solution when the lanes cross the tracks before Fisherman’s Wharf. I cross my fingers cars who make the slight S next to me will not have to pull over to my side to avoid another car.

    Most of these can be solved by good design like well-thought of dedicated lanes.

    • Posted by Alai

      For the “fast riders will not stop for lights on the northbound side” rant — sure, I agree, anyone who doesn’t yield to pedestrians is doing it wrong. But it happens fairly often that there are clearly zero pedestrians, and as a result it seems pretty silly.

      • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

        Until there’s a kid you didn’t see behind the very fat lady running towards his dad on the median. The light was green for him, he felt safe, and stopping felt silly for you. 100s of different situations can occur. Cycling for 43 years or so, I always think of what ifs. Reflexes cannot be replaced with basic caution.

      • Posted by sfjhawk

        Coming from a small town, I get this equivalent to the what do you when you come up to the 4 way stop on a deserted country road (where you can see for miles in all directions)? Now that I’ve lived in the city for close to 20 years and currently 1 block from the Embarcadero, and bike/walk it many times a week, I don’t agree with the “fairly often,” as acceptable rationale to blow through an intersection. I’ve seen neighbors walking babies in strollers in the complete right of way get verbally accosted if they even kindly (emphasize kindly) suggest that a bicyclist follow the rules of the road and not enter the crosswalk when they light’s against them.

        The trouble with the it’s ok during those “fairly often,” instances, is it conditions everyone to use their own best judgement which I’ve seen is subject to very broad interpretation. I’m sure the family of the 65 year old visitor who died a couple of years ago after being struck by a bicyclist blowing a light (she was in the crosswalk) at Embarcadero and Mission would’ve appreciated some prudence.

    • Posted by EH

      Pedicab size “can be an issue?” They take up the entire width of the bike lane. I’ve long thought they should be required to use the sidewalk, nobody who hires one is in a hurry.

  8. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    The pedicabs are a real nuisance, and they seem to grow in numbers. Aren’t these private businesses who require licenses to operate? If so, then stop issuing those damn licenses!

    Anyway, I run on the Embarcadero 3-4 times a week. I usually run in the designated bike lane since that’s the only place you won’t find any cyclists.

  9. Posted by Steve

    A lot of the problems with bikes on the Embarcadero are caused by tourists on those damn Blazing Saddles bikes not knowing how to ride in the City. Almost got hit by one last weekend plowing through a red light totally oblivious of the need to stop for people in the crosswalk.

    • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

      Blazing Saddles and all the other “cycle on the GG bridge” outfits are sure annoying to daily cyclists. There are a lot of stretched with no stop signs of traffic lights on scenic routes and yet you can’t reach the speed limit because of the slow zigzagging tourists.

      But what’s better to the influence cycling than showing a newbie that you can get from point A to point B with the power of your legs in a fun and fast way? Then someone from Middletown, Anywhere will come back to his car-centric city and wonder why it is the way it is. Then cities we considered as less open to cycling have pilot programs who push us into getting more advanced cycling options. These are win-win: less big buses suffocating us with diesel, and more people getting the message that cycling is a viable alternative to many trips within a city.

  10. Posted by Mickey

    This is an excellent idea. I use the BikeShare bikes to commute regularly from Embarcadero Center to the BallPark area, and the Embarcadero is a nice flat route. But it often feels dangerous (including in the designated bike lane, which has no physical protection), and I end up biking on the wide sidewalk (water side) because the road isn’t safe.

  11. Posted by pvc

    The separated bike lane is a good idea, wherever they put it. I ride, walk and drive in the city and on Embarcadero on a regular basis. There are responsible people, complete idiots and everything in between using all forms of transportation – safest thing is to create an actual barrier so the bikes, walkers and cars have spaces that are hard/impossible to encroach on.

  12. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    This is good news so long as it is executed properly. Wow, four different options being considered. I’m inclined to just go for the “normal” curbside one-way bikeways. But I’d have to ponder the detailed street diagrams to really figure it out. Hopefully some professional is doing this!

    This is a very important route connecting the Marina to Mission Bay. Even though it is not very direct, it is very flat and that makes a big difference in a bike.

  13. Posted by BobN

    What they should do — assuming they’re preparing to spend waaaaay more money than I would like, a generally safe assumption — is put two-way bike lanes on the roadway, along the promenade. Then, put the MUNI tracks, both directions, between the bikes and the roadway. Then, furthest inland, put the two-way car traffic. That way, there’s a grade difference between peds and bikes, a buffer between bikes and cars, and Muni doesn’t have to stop for traffic lights. The Muni cars could trigger stopping lights for pedestrians crossing the Embarcadero.

    • Posted by Alai

      Not a bad idea at all, though one downside is that a majority of the passengers on Muni are probably headed to and from points west of the Embarcadero, so they’d be faced with a more unpleasant crossing.

      • Posted by BobN

        As it is now, you get dropped off on an unpleasant median and have to wait for the light to cross two lanes going in one direction. Plus the mixture of traffic stoplights and Muni stoplights are confusing — at least to me :-). With both tracks on the outer side, you’d be just crossing a pretty typical street. (Though they’d still have to have ped crossing lights for the Muni tracks themselves because we can’t trust people to not walk out in front of a large rail car headed right at them).

    • Posted by Futurist

      No, not a good idea. Not going to ever happen. Seriously you want them to demolish, tear up and re-build the entire Embarcadero? There is NO money for that kind of elaborate solution, and it’s not needed.

      How about this?: People just work together to be courteous and safe toward each other, whether walking, bike riding or driving a vehicle.

  14. Posted by BobN

    Futurist, I guess you didn’t read my first sentence. I do not want them to tear up and rebuild the Embarcadero. They appear to be willing to do so, since they’re offering options which appear to be impossible with the current rail configuration. (Though I do wonder why it costs hundreds of millions to move rail when European cities seem able to do it for way less.)

    This City, indeed this country, doesn’t think ahead. The time to have done this was when they put in the line. The time to have put Muni underground on 3rd was when there was no new development out there yet. Instead we study and study and study.

  15. Posted by DCR

    Bike lanes are always a good idea on significant commute corridors, so I’m all for it.

    On another note, I don’t understand why SFPD doesn’t simply crack down hard on bicyclists and start handing out tickets every day at known areas where bikers break the rules. Not just once in a blue moon.

    I bike in from the north bay daily and I am gobsmacked how many serious bike commuters just tear through stop signs and even red lights (such as the one at the end of Bay Street on to Embarcadero). Ticket them at the same rate as a moving violation in a car so that it financially hurts. Have a focus on it for a month. Revenue from tickets will go way up which the city will like, and bikes will start to understand that they too need to follow the rules of the road.

    • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

      Cyclist here, and 100% for it. Being a cyclist and environmentally conscious doesn’t mean you have a waiver for all the rules everyone else obeys. Some rules “could” be relaxed one day at stop signs under very specific conditions, but red is red, the sidewalk is the sidewalk, etc…

  16. Posted by Jonny

    I’d like to see bike lanes opened up to skateboards, kick scooters, inline skates, Segways, etc. The lanes could be called Alternative Transportation Lanes instead of bike lanes.

  17. Posted by jill

    agree with above. motorcycles and scooters too. everyone should get a special lane.

    • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

      The whole point of the expansion of bike lanes is to allow people to choose not to use motorized transportation. Sorry, it’s a policy choice.

  18. Posted by Anon

    As mentioned earlier in this thread, a pedestrian was killed in the Embarcadero by a bicycle rider not obeying traffic laws. (Embarcadero and Mission) I Agree with Jill and others, why couldn’t scooters, pedicabs and segways use the bike lanes? So are cyclists the only group to get exclusive use, just like they are the only group that feels they do not obey traffic laws? There needs to be a Pedestrian Advocacy group formed to balance the lobbying power of the Bike Coalition which now has pretty much exclusively fed MTA management positions with their former staff members. If you want a six figure job at the MTA, start out working for about 2 years at the SFBC and you’re on your way to a top transit planning position.

    • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

      How many pedestrians killed by motor vehicles in the past 5 years? Nobody knows because no one is really keeping count. Funny how people focus their attention. Death by car is expected. It’s normal. It’s just the way it is. Car runs light, kills kid, sad story. Bike runs light, kills elderly, pitchforks.
      Not that we should defend the cyclists who kill pedestrians, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but for me this is one and very same issue: safety on our streets.

      • Posted by Jake

        SF city gov certainly keeps track and has an underfunded projects like ‘Zero Vision’ to reduce pedestrian injuries by motor vehicles. According to SFMTA, on average about 20 pedestrians per year are killed in motor vehicles collisions. Vehicle drivers are prosecuted every year for hitting pedestrians in SF, though probably fewer than should be.

        Also CDC tracks nationwide.

        SFDPH has a Vehicle-Pedestrian Injury Collision Model that tries to predict changes in collision rates due to new development and transportation changes.

    • Posted by Puhleez

      I have taken to spitting on cyclists who clip me or cut me off in a cross walk. Haven’t had one of them step up to the plate yet, but I can’t wait until one does.

  19. Posted by anon

    Was the bike rider who did not obey traffic laws and killed the pedestrian at Embarcadero and Mission prosecuted?

    • Posted by Jake

      Yes, he was prosecuted, charged with and plead guilty to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, and sentenced to 3 years probation, community service, and restitution.

      Misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter carries a sentence of up to one year in county jail.

      Reportedly, the victim’s husband felt that community service was a better punishment than jail time.

      BTW, today is the 3 year anniversary of the accident and death. RIP Dionette Cherney.

      • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

        Nobody is keeping anniversaries on all the pedestrians killed by cars. I forgot, these are “normal”. My point precisely.

    • Posted by sfjhawk

      tacking onto Jake’s comment, this was also the same result of the pedestrian death a year later in the Castro when a bicyclist tried to slice his way through a crowded crosswalk on the far side of the intersection as the light turned red.

      http://sfist.com/2013/08/15/cyclist_chris_bucchere_sentenced_in.php

  20. Posted by Anon

    If a bicyclist causes injury to a pedestrian or kills someone like the Embarcadero/Mission killing, are they ever tested for intoxication the way auto drivers are? 3 years community service for killing someone while breaking the law? An auto driver would never get away with that!

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Actually most motorists who kill pedestrians get off with a wrap on their wrist. No jail time and minimal penalties.

      Unless the driver hits and runs, is DUI, or egregiously reckless they walk almost scott free.

      Bike hits pedestrian on the other hand gets the “man bites dog” treatment.

    • Posted by NoeValleyJim

      Most auto drivers in San Francisco who kill pedestrians are not even cited, much less charged. You kill 25 pedestrians a year.

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