(Originally published in the January, 2013, issue of the Richmond Review newspaper, a community news source serving the Richmond District of San Francisco.)
by Thomas K. Pendergast
On a Saturday morning the foreign tourists queued up in front of a bus near the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.
Standing scattered across a bicycle lane in a loose group of about a dozen people, they did not notice a bicyclist bearing down on them. He whistled first, then yelled "hello!" at them so they would see him coming.
The tourists moved and let him through but the confusion was on every face. Why was this bicyclist so pushy and why didn't he just go around the bus on the other side?
They obviously had no idea that they were blocking his bicycle lane.
Farther down the road the sidewalks were clogged with pedestrians and a jogger was running fast, so he moved across the grass strip and into the middle of the bicycle lane to go around them, which caused the bicycle rider coming up behind him to move left into the parking buffer zone, around the jogger and only a couple of feet from a row of parked cars.
City planners and the SF Bicycle Coalition are set to create more of these "cycle tracks" around San Francisco but opposition is growing against the design found along John F. Kennedy Drive, near the east side of Golden Gate Park, with some disabled people and even some bicyclists saying that this design is more dangerous for them than not having any bike lanes at all.