Neighborhood Greenways: The Basic Idea

The basic idea behind the neighborhood greenway is transforming networks of quieter residential streets into low speed, low car traffic places where women and people of all ages feel comfortable biking, walking, running, etc. As with protected bike lanes, there are many ways to create neighborhood greenways; they are distinctive and beautiful.

Neighborhood greenways have been common throughout the U.S. and Europe for decades, including places as close as Berkeley and Portland. Neighborhood greenways are researched and endorsed by national transportation officials.




  • Friendlier, safer neighborhood streets for residents and visitors
  • Slow, low speed traffic opens up comfortable, safe areas to bike, walk, run, play and socialize with neighbors
  • Greening and water conservation features create beautiful, park-like atmosphere

Tour Neighborhood Greenways Around the West Coast

Neighborhood Greenways in San Francisco

San Francisco currently has no plans to build neighborhood greenways despite having many clear neighborhood candidates. Nor has the City made a concerted effort to incorporate these design elements into obvious locations like the many neighborhood “wiggles” and west side avenue crosstown bike routes.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s excellent (but inactive?) Connecting the City campaign began to reimagine at least one location as a neighborhood greenway. Unfortunately, the City did not incorporate any elements of a neighborhood greenway in the design it ended up building.


The Wiggle as Neighborhood Greenway

Protected Intersections: The Basic Idea

The basic idea behind the design is that it protects people biking, walking and driving from each other. As with protected bike lanes, there are many ways to create protected spaces, including concrete, bollards, plastic posts and more.

Protected bike intersections have been common throughout Europe for decades, and have finally become recommended practice in the U.S., researched and endorsed by state transportation agencies.



Check out this excellent, brief video, which clearly explains the concept.


  • Easy sight lines for everyone, making turns safer and less stressful for all
  • Easier, safer right and left turns for people on bikes
  • Shorter crossing distances for people on foot
  • More predictable, less stressful navigation for people driving cars and trucks

Tour Examples Around the World

Protected Intersections in San Francisco

To date, the City has built its first protected intersection for part of 9th Street & Division. There is a clear need for protected intersections throughout the city. Glaring examples include the intersection of the Panhandle and Stanyan Street, most streets in SOMA and downtown and Polk & Market.


Image Credits
  • John Greenfield (header image)
  • MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide