How’s that Market and Valencia ‘turn pocket’ working out for you?

As someone who used to ride it daily, I can say that Market and Valencia is definitely one of the most stressful intersections for a cyclist. This major vein connects a lot of the city to the Mission, and the turn to Valencia involved a gulp-inducing left hand triple lane change within half a block. On one hand, it trained me to be a bit more assertive with my signaling and lane-changing, but sometimes trusting that cars aren’t gonna just mow you down anyway isn’t too much fun.

This has also lead to some nasty biking habits. Sometimes folks would give themselves a lead-in in the middle of the intersection. Others would run the red light when it was clear out of impatience. Hey, I’m no saint. I’ve done those things too. We can all be better.

The above pictured “turn pocket” was installed in the last year week as an alternative. It takes a chunk out of the curb to let forward-heading cyclists to proceed while left turners could chillax and wait for the signal.

The SF Bike Coalition is wondering what you think about it. Have you even used the thing? Is it counter-intuitive to head right to turn left? Is it slower than braving the turn lane? Go ahead and voice your concerns at their survey.


66 Responses to “How’s that Market and Valencia ‘turn pocket’ working out for you?”

  1. pdbird says:

    Biggest safety concern here is the same at any light in this city at this point,red light running cyclists. To be honest as someone who has biked in this town for 12 years, the biggest safety threat is from new riders and red light runners,far more dangerous then cars at this point. Fo realz.

    • paul says:

      PD, you have to know this isn’t true. Unsafe cyclists are a danger, but cars still kill and injure more bicyclists every year than bicyclists do.

      • pdbird says:

        I have witnessed 4 T bone collisions this year alone,all of them bikes on peds or bike on bike. All of them caused by cyclist running light,or stop sign. I have only seen one lady hit by car,and that was her fault for not using the right turn out of Panhandle park to get to GGP. She went straight west to the end of the panhandle at Stanyan(its a bike one way at that point,heading east) and then she very stupidly tried to go across the 4 lanes of Fell to get into GGP. I’m being dead serious. Not only is this a huge safety issue,but it’s also a very bad public relations issue.

        • paul says:

          I understand what you’ve seen, PD. And I agree bikers need to be safer and more law abiding, but the numbers show that cars are more dangerous than bikes.

        • ChugItNugget says:

          Totally will agree, been hit by another cyclist being an asshat (coming on my left to turn right, no signal and this is AT an interseciong, cuts it so that my front wheel went through his aero spoke, tossed me over the front of my bike, shattered 2 fingers and broke my jaw. Oh and he rode off..) Never been hit by a car. They’ve come close, but my guess is bike on bike doesn’t really go to the cops, it just kinda is an exchange of words and people go on their way.

          • rod says:

            we know you’ve never been hit by a car, because you are alive. you guys are missing the point here . . .

        • pdbird says:

          rodwe know you’ve never been hit by a car, because you are alive. you guys are missing the point here . . .Ive been hit by cars several times. Does not mean certain death. ,that being said,life goes on.At this point in time I am more worried about being hit by fellow cyclist then a car. Times change.

          • rod says:

            you are certainly in the minority if you would prefer to be hit by a car than a bicycle.

          • Hmm says:

            pretty sure he said “at this point I am more worried,” given his experiences. Context!

          • pdbird says:

            Rod,the point im trying to make,is at this point,I feel i am MORE LIKELY to be hit by a cyclist then a car,where as five years ago I would have said the opposite.

      • pdbird says:

        They have done such a great job with separated bike lanes,colored roadways and the like that it is very hard to get hit by a car these days compared with even just 5 years ago. Stop light/sign running cyclist are in my opinion are the biggest threat to peds and other cyclist. Just our observations from 80 miles a week in the city…

        • Ginny says:

          While cars scare the shit out of me 24/7, most of my recent near collisions have been due to other riders. People who pass on the right and get reaaaaal close to you so you’re forced into traffic drive me crazy! I don’t like getting upset with other bikers, but there are some people that need city cycling 101. I ride between Mission and SOMA almost everyday.

          • pdbird says:

            First off,you should never pass a fellow cyclist on the right. Secondly, you should never pass reaaaaal close.

          • Cycling etiquette can be taught.
            Always carry a frame pump (a dented old Zephal, not a shiny Silca-with-Campy-head)
            See “Breaking Away” for a concise demonstration.

    • Hugh says:

      Our city averages 17 pedestrian deaths a year, and virtually ALL of those are due to motorized traffic. (The case of the elderly pedestrian killed by a negligent cyclist made news, but it is a statistical anomaly. As far as I can tell, that accident is the only one of its kind in at least 10 years.)

      • Brillo says:

        The majority of those pedestrian deaths do involve cars, but I’d say they are due to jaywalking homeless folks on mid-Market. The stats show these fatalities mostly occur around Mission-Market-6th-8th. Not hard to infer the real cause.

        • thatsthejoke says:

          only homeless people get killed by cars, that’s a FACT

          • frankenhut says:

            BULLSH*T! My brother was killed by a hit and run driver in SF and he was not a homeless person. The driver of the car failed to stop at a stop sign and was speeding.

          • moto-waki says:

            the majority of people that read these comments can’t fathom jokes.

        • pdbird says:

          Brillo,i think muni hits and kills like 7 people a year,not sure if thats true,dont have time to google it right now.

          • Brillo says:

            I believe it, but that doesn’t answer the question of what the circumstances were. I ride my bike on SVN to Mission every day and how many times have I almost hit that woman who scoots her wheelchair through the middle of traffic, not even at the crosswalk, at a major intersection? If she got hit it would be 100% her fault. Same goes for the drunks who stagger off the sidewalk on Market every morning. Sorry but I’m out of sympathy for those particular pedestrians.

        • paul says:

          You’re right, it isn’t hard to infer the real cause – dangerous driving.

          California is pretty pedestrian friendly. Drivers have a duty of due care to all pedestrians on motorways regardless of the legality of the pedestrian’s conduct. This means that if you’re not going the speed limit or below or operating the vehicle at a speed safe for the conditions, you can be held responsible for hitting a pedestrian. Pedestrians have the duty not to jump right out in front of your car, but it’s not their responsibility not to get hit simply because they’re jaywalking.

          • Brillo says:

            Look up the police data, and ride down Market St every day, and tell me how many times you see someone wandering across the street against the light in mid-Market. Drivers do need to be more careful but that doesn’t mean they’re always at fault.

      • Arthur says:

        Actually, it’s happened twice in SF in the last couple years. Once in the Castro and once at Embarcadero and Market.

  2. ian says:

    by “installed in the last year” do you mean “installed in the last week”?? that is brand new. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet but I’m happy about the change.

  3. moto-waki says:

    not gonna use it. i have no problem taking a lane from cars to make the left on to valencia. this might be a good idea for all of the scared helmet-wearing muthafuckers.

  4. rod says:

    i dunno if i’d use it, getting into the left turn lane isn’t that big of a deal anyways. what they really need to work out is the clusterfuck in the eastbound lane of market crossing van ness, where the bike lane and the auto lane switch places mid-intersection. this confuses cyclists and motorists alike and will probably lead to accidents.

    • pdbird says:

      Maybe the first time you go that way yes. I agree. But once is enough for most people to learn that u MERGE left,its clearly marked.

  5. notatransplantciscan says:

    No one is going to use it!!!!!!! unfortunately, too bad its actually very cute!!

  6. Gentrifier says:

    Why not just go into the lane? Allowed full use of lane. I don’t see what the big deal is… Its only when you timidly move around that you confuse drivers, but if you make eye contact, and go when there is an opening, kinda like when you’re in a car, and move at / near the speed of traffic then cars don’t really mind.

  7. Jeff says:

    I think it’s great and will help get more people on their bikes.

    This intersection makes the return trip from downtown very daunting to casual or new riders. It has a double whammy of train tracks and speeding cars.

    I expect people will self select into zoomers and waiters, and that’s fine. I’m glad the city did something to fix this long time problem with the Valencia bike route.

  8. Satala says:

    I’m one of those newbies that has avoided riding downtown to work since the return trip scared my helmet wearing ass. Crossing traffic was hard for me since cab drivers seemed to be the most impatient and/or considerate at that intersection. I stopped commuting by bike and started walking when I got my tire in the tracks. I miss riding to work and this is great news for me!

    • rod says:

      your instincts are correct, taxi drivers are the most dangerous thing on the road.

      • pdbird says:

        I really think taxi drivers in this town get a bad wrap. Even though I ‘ve been hit by cab. Amount of hrs on bike increases anyones chances for an accident. Cab drivers while very agressive,seem know when someone can ride a bike or not.

  9. Laurie says:

    I’m relieved the turn pocket it there. Negotiating that turn was always dicey and awkward, unless there were no cars on Valencia. Haven’t used it yet though.

  10. Laurie says:

    no cars on Market, I mean.

  11. icicle says:

    Ride like you’re a fast car, not a toy. Freshcuts on bikes are out there ruining the flow with their self-entitled hollering at cars and safety vests. Makes us cringe….practice somewhere else, this is a City.

    • andrew says:

      What our friend meant to say was: Ride your bike (safely) however you want. Bikesnobs are out there bumming everyone out acting like a bicycle is a sign of membership in a secret club rather than a mode of transportation. It should make us all cringe that people who want to ride a bike in a City have to face hostility from jerks both in cars and on bikes.

    • paul says:

      Former messenger here. This is how I ride, but definitely isn’t how everyone should ride. Stop being a fucking pretentious poseur and just be happy more people are riding bikes these days, which makes biking better for everybody. The only “us” that is cringing is a bunch of entitled wannabe fucks that think riding a bike must be done in a macho bullshit way.

  12. Adam says:

    So none of you have actually used the turnout, so none of you can actually answer the question. My takeaway from this conversation is as follows: one, cars are more dangerous than bikes therefore bikers never cause accidents or hurt people ever; two, the turnout is for wimps; and third, “Aren’t those inexperienced bikers annoying? If they don’t have the guts to cut across traffic they should stay off my road.”

    • Freedrinker says:

      I think it’s totally cool. I don’t need/want to use it at that intersection, but I totally understand and respect those who do. Good to see the MTA doing things, trying things, and the SFBC talking about these things. It’s about bikes, which are as cool, fun, or utilitarian as you want them to be inside your own helmeted or non-helmeted melon.

    • pdbird says:

      Uhhm,my post is the first one. While I did not say that I had used it,I would not have commented if i had not done so.

  13. ML says:

    So… To comment on the article itself:

    This intersection is part of my daily commute. Though Valencia can be pretty such during rush hour (where did all these cars park/drive before there was a bike lane?!?!) the intersection to head onto Valencia from Market can be very difficult to navigate.

    I thought I’d love this little turn pocket, but two issues for why I think its not as successful as it could be:

    1) the timing for the cyclist green light doesnt turn green til well after the green arrow is given to make the left onto Valencia. So it’s faster to try and navigate traffic as before the pocket installation or people just run the cyclist red signal. Either way, not great. **Please fix the timing for the cyclist signal to match the green arrow!!!**

    2) motorists aren’t really getting the “keep clear” need and keep stooping right in the middle of the pathway cyclists are suppose to take from the turnout onto Valencia. Some more paint could maybe help? Flashy lights maybe? Something to make it easier for motorists to see that the area does need to be open would be great.

  14. one says:

    I’m FAR more afraid of bikes than cars. At least cars follow rules of the road far more than bike cretins. You can see them coming, versus some bastard coming silently out of nowhere in the middle of the night.

    I’ve been missed by mere inches about 5 times in the last 2 weeks by hipster douches on bikes.
    I fucking hate them all. I really really do. I’m far from alone in feeling this.

    When you are on your bike, know you are thoroughly loathed by many many people.

    • moto-waki says:

      go ahead, live your life in fear & loathing. the bikes will find you, and destroy you!!!

    • pdbird says:

      Well I take offense to this. As one,and maybe one in the minority that does stop at stop signs/lights. Always gives way to Pedestrians and am very vocal about this issue. I take issue not with your hate but with the direction that you aim it. “hipster douches on bikes” Lets be honest if we are going to have this discussion. I see many more everyday commuters blow stop signs then any “Hipster douces on bikes” ,most of them have moved to Oakland BTW.

  15. Milk Steak says:

    I’ve used the “pocket” a few times now and I’m glad it’s there. I used to find another way onto Valencia because I found it difficult sometimes to cut across the muni tracks while trying to fit into traffic. It’s still not quite a carefree intersection though. Now I have to be careful not to get t-boned by cyclists going straight through the light. I usually just err on the side of caution and assume approaching riders are going to run the light to go straight through until it’s obvious they’re stopping.

  16. Confirm you are NOT a spammer says:

    riders are worse to other riders than cars are to riders. There are a bunch of dicks out there on 2 wheels and I’m one of them, I’m afraid. We may never evolve.

  17. Iggy says:

    Looks like a bad place for cyclists. :(

  18. Badge Holder says:

    I ride it daily, Thanks for this

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