Creating a Protected Bike Network in SoMa

London Breed
3 min readMar 24, 2021


It’s no secret that the pandemic has decimated our transportation network. Pre-pandemic, Muni averaged roughly 750,000 boardings per day. Now that number is closer to 200,000. As a result, revenue has declined dramatically and caused large budget gaps. The American Rescue Plan thankfully provides much needed support to help close those budget gaps, but we still have a lot of work to do to identify more funding to return service to where it was.

But we know that our transportation system is more than just Muni — more and more San Franciscans are getting around the City on bikes, scooters, and other forms of transportation. With our economy starting up again and office workers beginning to return downtown, which is now allowed as we enter the state’s Orange Tier, we need to make sure they can safely get to and from work.

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, the investments we made and the progress we were able to sustain despite the challenges of the past year are evident on our streets in the South of Market neighborhood. We finally have a completed network of protected bike lanes in SOMA.

Why is this important? When people have a safe way to bike to work, they’re much more likely to do so, and with Muni service still impacted, this is another way besides driving that people can commute. These protected lanes are critical connections between locations like the Caltrain station by the ballpark and the Financial District, or the Embarcadero and SOMA offices for people commuting in to the Ferry Building, or for folks arriving at the Salesforce Transit Center.

This is not only critical to the City hitting our climate goals, it also reduces car congestion and makes our streets safer. In order for that to happen, people need to feel safe moving about our streets, which is why in 2019 I set a goal of adding 20 more miles of protected bike lanes throughout the City.

Howard Street before and after, with new protected lanes from traffic.

We’ve taken some of the most dangerous streets for pedestrians and bicyclists and overhauled them. Some of these were major street reconstruction, like on Second Street from Market to Townsend. This involved an extended process, with new bike lanes, transit islands, landscaping, and street surfacing. For other streets, we used our new quick-build policy that allowed us to cut through layers of bureaucracy that previously existed so we could create new protected bike lanes without having to wade through years of process delays.

Construction on Second Street was able to continue through the last year, meaning we didn’t lose ground on our efforts to continue improving critical infrastructure.

The hard work and commitment of the folks at the SFMTA and San Francisco Public Works to continue moving forward during the pandemic is going to have a major impact on our recovery. The Financial District and SoMa are going to recover. People are slowly going to be returning to offices. Our transportation network will recover, and as that happens the work that we’ve done over the past year will ensure that San Francisco’s transportation network is safer and more accessible than ever.

Streets completed in recent months: