Posted by: VPSN | January 6, 2012

Spaces beyond: blocked bike lanes in Washington, parklets in San Francisco

In Washington an interesting post by John Hendel on blocked bike lanes.  Writing in the  TBD Transportation Blog, Hendel reports on a conversation with Chief of Police Cathy Lanier in which the latter noted that Washington’s constabulary had quadrupled the quantity of tickets issued for cars blocking bike lanes.  The number?  An impressive 2,000 tickets.

Given that enforcement is always a challenge with any law or bylaw, it got us wondering about the local situation.

blocked bikelane-hornby
Blocked bike lane – Photo by Lee_Wheel @ MyBikeLane

How often do you find bike lanes blocked in Vancouver?  We’d be interested in hearing about the local stories and stats… so if anyone has details they can share, please post them here.  In the meantime at least one initiative has resorted to a bit of public shaming.  The local chapter of profiles some of the city’s better bike lane offenders.

(Who knows, road diet debates being what they are, perhaps we’ll see a site springing up soon as well!).

Meanwhile, in San Francisco a new study has quantified the effect of reclaiming parking spots for public space.  The City has created over 20 “parklets” in the last couple of years, each of which repurposes 2-3 spaces and transforms them into a place “for people to relax and enjoy the city around them.”  There’s some good information in here for Vancouver… particularly given the City’s experimentation with things like Parallel Park and Picnurbia.

Valencia Parklet - San Francisco - Tim Olsen
Valencia Parklet -Photo by Tim Olsen

The 2011 Parklet Impact Study looks at the before and after effect of parklet creation on three streets: Valencia, Stockton and Polk.  Here’s some of what it found:

  • Changes to foot traffic were mixed.  Average foot traffic on Stockton Street increased after the parklet was installed, but there was no significant change at the Valencia Street and Polk Street local Eons;
  • The number of people stopping to engage in stationary activities significantly increased at all three locations, especially on weekdays;
  • There was an incremental increase in the number of bikes parked in each location.
  • Perceptions of the street areas as a ‘good place for socializing and fun’ increased on two out of three streets and decreased on the third.  Perceptions of the area as a ‘place that looks clean’ saw a similar 2/1 split;
  • None of the businesses that replied to the business survey had observed a decrease in their customer levels and none reported significant concerns about loss of nearby street parking or other impacts on their business.

You can read the full study here.  There’s also a good summary available on the San Franciso Great Streets Blog.



  1. There is a northbound curbside painted lane on Ash st between 6th and 7th Aves that gets blocked a lot. Mostly I find it’s blocked by people queueing up to make a left turn onto 6th Ave. The lane is quite wide (wider than most I think) and it seems like drivers think they might be able to bypass the cars in front of them by squeezing forward in the bike lane. Of course usually they do not fit and so end up having to wait there anyway, but the lane is pretty wide so sometimes they do fit.

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