SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) —  A new contraflow bike lane opened on Friday on a stretch of Polk Street in San Francisco, with a physical barrier protecting cyclists from the surrounding traffic.

The green-painted bike lane is protected by raised curves and landscaping. It’s called a contraflow lane because cyclists ride against the direction of vehicle traffic along a one-way portion of the Polk Street.

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It may only be a few city blocks from Polk and Market Streets to San Francisco City Hall, but to a bike rider it could have been a harrowing experience, up until now.

Bicyclists previously had to map out a route using Van Ness Avenue, Larkin or Polk streets in order to avoid bicycling on the sidewalk or against the one-way traffic, both of which are illegal.

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San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin called the new lanes “critically important.”

Funding for the lanes were made possible by Proposition B, but SFMTA’s Paul Rose is asking for support for a ballot measure that would provide $1.5 billion in transportation benefits that would include more bike lanes in the city.

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