S.F. moves for better, safer streets

As San Francisco’s pedestrian death toll continues to climb, a citywide plan to improve safety, access and atmosphere for walkers on city roadways is creeping along slowly.

In the last two weeks, four people have been struck and killed by vehicles while walking on San Francisco streets. Two men were killed in separate hit-and-runs last weekend, an 83-year-old woman was struck and killed by a Muni bus and a pedestrian was struck and killed by a Muni train Thursday.

While investigations into the recent deaths are ongoing, city officials have been busy showcasing new design proposals for different types of streets intended to increase pedestrian safety and slow traffic.

The draft designs are part of The City’s Better Streets Plan, launched in April with the goal of creating design principles for local streets, from those with little pedestrian activity to major thoroughfares.

“It’s a major goal of the plan to promote enhanced pedestrian safety. Hopefully, whatever strategies we come up with will do just that,” said a city planner who asked not to be named.

The designs — 12 in all — were created after surveying hundreds of residents and holding dozens of workshops. Visible crosswalks, better lighting and corner bulb outs that force drivers to slow down when turning emerged as major priorities among most residents.

Large sidewalk planters are also being considered to buffer curbside vehicles from pedestrians on commercial throughways. Additional benches and chairs would provide people with areas to sit and congregate, while multispace parking meters could be used to reduce streetscape clutter.

Additionally, perpendicular or angled parking spaces are proposed for streets in downtown residential areas, as well as neighborhoods that are either primarily residential or commercial, because they create narrower streets and slow traffic.

Flexible parking zones are also proposed for certain neighborhoods, where parking spaces can be claimed during certain times of day for seating near restaurants and cafes or bicycle parking.

Some residents who participated in the draft designs, however, say the plan is too ambitious for the level of resources The City has allocated.

“What we’re going to get is all the easy stuff that’s politically correct, like bulb outs, countdown lights, maybe some textured or raised crosswalks,” said Pi Ra, pedestrian safety coordinator for the San Francisco Senior Action Network.

Ra said enforcement should be addressed in the next round of public discussion, which will continue through September.

Public meetings are planned for Sept. 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Taraval Police Station, 2345 24th Ave., and Sept. 12 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Bayview Branch Library, 5075 Third St.

Making the streets as safe as possible

While pedestrian-scale lighting, corner curb bulb outs and highly visible crosswalks are desirable for most streets through The City, unique designs are being proposed for certain areas to meet specific challenges.

Commercial throughways: Divisadero, Van Ness, Broadway

» Center median to calm traffic

» Multispace parking meters to reduce streetscape clutter

» Flexible parking zones

» Extended curb bulb outs with seating, trees and landscaping

Downtown residential: Near Rincon Hill, including Spear and Main

» Wide sidewalks for pedestrian plazas with seating, trees and landscaping

» Perpendicular or angled parking

» Flexible parking zones

» Midblock curb extensions

<p>» Midblock crosswalks

Commercial neighborhoods: Valencia, Polk, Ocean, Cole

» Extended curb bulb outs for transit stops

» Perpendicular or angled parking

» Flexible parking zones

» Midblock curb extensions

» Midblock crosswalks

Residential neighborhoods: Sunset and Richmond districts

» Raised crosswalks

» Median

» Sidewalk and parking lane pocket parks

» Perpendicular or angled parking

– Source: San Francisco Planning Department

arocha@examiner.com

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