Streets built for bicycles

June 11, 2012 | By | Comments (0)
Valencia's green wave

Valencia’s green wave

For a glorious 5 minutes and 38 seconds, I feel not as if the universe revolves around me (c’mon, it’s not like I’m in a car) but, finally, as if it’s not against me.

On my bicycle on Valencia Street in San Francisco, I can cruise for more than a mile without stopping or even breaking my momentum. Two years ago the city tried a bold test, timing the traffic signals on that stretch for the speed of bicycles. It sounds so fantastical that it bears repeating: On this public roadway, used by auto traffic and delivery trucks and crossed by pedestrians, the lights are timed specifically for bicycles. You can Google map it if you like—from just north of Bar Tartine all the way to Anthony’s Cookies on Valencia, the travel time is exactly the same whether you’re biking or driving.

This year the measure became permanent, complete with big green signs on either end—it’s the first two-way Green Wave in the world, according to the mayor—as if announcing to those of us on bikes, “Hey, welcome. Enjoy!” The world is not perfect, but when I see those signs it feels at least like it’s moving in that direction.

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