A cyclist rides past a delivery truck in a traffic lane next to an unprotected bike lane along Folsom Street near Third Street on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Protected bike lane, safety measures proposed for dangerous stretch of Folsom Street

Folsom Street between Second and Fifth streets has been the site of at least 31 traffic collisions involving a bicycle or pedestrian since 2014, according to City of San Francisco data.

With four, one-way lanes, parking on both sides, curbside stops for public buses and an on-road bike lane, this section of Folsom Street serves just about every kind of transit user, but it also makes for dysfunctional and dangerous traffic patterns.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, a key stakeholder in The City’s Vision Zero commitment to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, is proposing a number of short-term changes to mitigate the area’s most pressing safety concerns, and it’s asking the public to provide input.

From August 12 to August 26, residents can access a virtual presentation detailing the suggested changes and leave questions or comments for staff to review. SFMTA will respond to feedback directly through the site within one week.

Individuals can also submit thoughts by mail or email as well as sign up for project alerts.

SFMTA’s proposal includes the reduction of travel lanes where there are four to three; creation of a wider protected bikeway; implementation of daylighted intersections, or painting curbs red to enhance visibility of pedestrians, and transit boarding islands so buses don’t have to pull over to curbs for passenger loading; and changes to traffic flows at intersections.

No decision will be made during the public hearing period. At the end of the two weeks, staff will present comments received to the City Traffic Engineer, who then decides on project approval.

If okayed, these changes are expected to be implemented by the end of the year.

Quick Build projects, like this one, are designed to quickly implement cost-effective changes to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety as a stopgap for longer-term initiatives.

Folsom Street and neighboring, westbound Howard Street were the site of two traffic-related deaths in 2018, and both are part of San Francisco’s High-injury Network, the 12 percent of city streets that account for 70 percent of The City’s severe and fatal traffic crashes.

More permanent and comprehensive safety upgrades on these corridors are ongoing. Groundbreaking is expected to take place next year with the goal of completing construction by 2023.

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