A woman was struck on 6th and Howard streets on Friday, March 8, 2019. The truck that struck her is on the left in this photo. (Ellie Doyen/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF pledges new ‘action plan’ for dangerous streets

Ten people have died in traffic collisions on San Francisco’s streets this year — and now those deaths are spurring action.

The City is implementing a new “quick-build” strategy to implement easy, fast fixes to the most dangerous corridors for people walking or on bikes.

At the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors regular meeting on Tuesday, Tom Maguire, the agency’s director of sustainable streets, said the effort will make streets safer without waiting years for action.

“There’s no reason to wait for a long drawn out process,” Maguire told the board.

While street-specific information on engineering fixes were not immediately available, they generally include posts along bike lanes, green paint to make bike lanes more obvious to drivers, “daylighting” techniques like removing some parking to make crosswalks more visible, adjusting walk signal timing, and modifying paint at crosswalks to be more visible to drivers, among other changes.

Streets scheduled for safety engineering improvements include Sixth, South Van Ness, Market Street, Hyde Street, Van Ness, Turk, Geary, Polk, Mission, Broadway, and Masonic. Some of those efforts to make walking and bicycling safer are rolled into existing projects, like the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project, or Better Market Street.

The SFMTA also will continue safety engineering efforts on Howard, Townsend and Valencia streets.

Those fixes are slated to be completed by the end of 2019.

The “quick-build” approach was partially inspired by the agency’s recent work on Howard Street, in South of Market, Maguire said.

After Tess Rothstein, a Berkeley resident, was struck and killed while riding her bike on Howard in early March, cyclist and pedestrian advocates cried out for safer streets. Following sustained advocacy from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, People Protected Bike Lanes, Walk San Francisco and others, the SFMTA installed light-weight posts to create a physical barrier between cyclists along Howard Street.

“That action leads to a question, ‘Why can’t you do this on every street?’” Maguire said. “It’s a good question.”

Importantly, San Francisco has a map called the “high-injury network” that shows where people are injured and killed in collisions most often. That map will inform where a suite of bicycling and pedestrian improvements will be installed by the end of 2019.

Charles Deffarges, a senior community organizer at the bike coalition, spoke skeptically of the plan at the SFMTA board meeting.

“That’s a good start, but the list could be bigger,” he told the board. Deffarges added that many of the projects slated to net quick-build improvements “had significant design and outreach work done already,” but other dangerous streets with less work already complete were left off the list.

But Kevin Stull, who sits on the San Francisco Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, a citizen group, expressed optimism to the SFMTA.

Those fixes are “definitely one hundred percent” needed, he said. “I’m in full support.”


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