Pedestrian safety and dependable transportation is what residents of the Excelsior and Outer Mission districts want to see most, according to a new traffic study.
Five years ago, a study began to address transportation and pedestrian issues along Mission Street, between Silver and Geneva avenues, and on Geneva Avenue, between Paris Street and San Jose Avenue. After a series of community workshops and residents’ suggestions, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority will add bulb-out curbs, improve streetlights and make it easier for commuters to use Muni to connect to BART.
In October the authority applied for a $1 million grant that would transform the busy Persia Triangle, where Ocean and Persia avenues meet, one of the area’s main arteries that is also primary transportation hub. Even though the final plan still has bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, the community’s strong support for the Persia Triangle makeover had the authority apply for the grant, according to the authority’s senior transportation planner, Julie Kirschbaum.
The triangle will be transformed into a corridor with a landscape buffer along London Street, traffic-calming measures to slow speeding cars and improved curbs and bus stops for pedestrians. Bus stops would be combined to make it easier for riders to connect to BART.
"[The Persia Triangle] has the community [Excelsior] festival every year but you walk by it and it looks like a parking lot," Kirschbaum said. "But we want you to walk by it and see a beautiful space."
While the corridor has had few pedestrian-related accidents since 2000, eight intersections along Geneva Avenue, just a few blocks away, have had as many as five pedestrian involved accidents between 2001 and 2004, according to the Department of Public Health.
Ruth Grabowski, who lives in the neighborhood and is on the authority’s Citizen Advisory Committee, said pedestrians don’t feel safe walking the streets in the neighborhood and would like to see amenities such as countdown traffic signals and improved street lighting added to the streets. She said more reliable Muni buses are also a huge concern.
"There is an enormous perception that to get places it feels like you are far away even though really youare not," she said. "If the transit lines were really reliable and if these improvements could happen, I think it would cut down on people driving."
Cristy Johnson, of the Excelsior Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization Project, which conducted surveys in the community, said there is a large population of residents who only speak Spanish or Chinese and rely on public transportation. Muni is conducting its own survey of the area, according to Municipal Transportation Agency spokeswoman Maggie Lynch. She said her agency is working with the authority to understand community issues and see how buses in the Excelsior district could possibly be rerouted.