Community calls for safer street

With three elementary schools and scores of residential homes nearby, Monterey Boulevard in The City’s Sunnyside neighborhood is a key thoroughfare for schoolchildren, parents and others in the community.

It’s also a four-lane minihighway with cars zooming onto it from Interstate 280, making the street a dangerous place for pedestrians young and old.

Fed up with having to navigate around speeding motorists, neighborhood groups and pedestrian advocates are teaming up to lobby for lower speed limits, increased traffic-calming measures and greater awareness of the dangers on Monterey Boulevard, which has been the scene of 13 injury collisions since 2004.

“I’ve been here since 1995, and I’ve just taken it for granted that I can’t walk down this street,” said local resident Jon Winston, who has two school-age children and is a member of Friends of Monterey Boulevard, a neighborhood group. “This has always been a problem, and we want to change it.”

Along with Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy organization, Friends of Monterey Boulevard compiled a study on the thoroughfare and listed a set of recommendations for improving existing conditions, No. 1 being a reduction in the speed limit from 30 mph to 25.

“Studies have shown that when you lower the speed limit from 30 to 25, there is a significant drop in fatalities,” said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk SF. “That small decrease can have a huge safety impact.”

The organizations also want to establish a school zone near Sunnyside Elementary School, on Foerster Street about 1½ blocks south of Monterey Boulevard. The school zone would establish 15-mph speed limits within a 500-foot radius of the school, and a 25-mph limit within 1,000 feet. Other recommendations include adding automated speed detectors, flashing lights at crosswalks and increasing the signal time at crossings along the thoroughfare.

According to Friends of Monterey Boulevard, more than 50 percent of the students at Sunnyside Elementary live within a mile of campus, but only 20 percent walk there, mainly due to safety fears.

Julie Tonroy, a member of the Sunnyside Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, said it was unfortunate that so many parents refuse to let their children walk to school, since it is good exercise and an environmentally sustainable way to travel.

Reduced speed limits on Monterey Boulevard would need the approval of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and establishing a school zone in the area would require the consent of the Board of Supervisors.

Stampe said Walk SF is planning to meet with the SFMTA about the speed-limit reduction proposal, and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he would support the measure to establish a school zone at Sunnyside Elementary.

 

Increasing safety

  • 3: Elementary schools — Sunnyside, Glen Park and St. Finn Barr — located near Monterey Boulevard
  • 13: Injury collisions on Monterey Boulevard from 2004-09
  • 49: Percentage of parents surveyed who said speed was top concern on Monterey Boulevard
  • 47: Percentage of parents who said unsafe crossing conditions were top concern

Sources: Walk SF, Friends of Monterey Boulevard

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