Pedestrian safety projects, funds in SF to shift to major streets 

click to enlarge Traffic-calming projects in San Francisco, which aim to make streets safer for pedestrians, will shift to major arteries. - PHOTOS.COM
  • Traffic-calming projects in San Francisco, which aim to make streets safer for pedestrians, will shift to major arteries.

San Francisco plans to shift its traffic-calming strategies this year to focus on larger thoroughfares.

Traditionally, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spends $2.5 million a year of The City’s transportation tax funds on measures to slow down traffic and make walking safer for pedestrians. Last year, nearly all of those funds — $2.2 million — were dedicated for projects on smaller, residential streets.

This year, the transit agency wants to direct more of that money toward arterial streets — multilane thoroughfares in neighborhoods such as South of Market, where vehicle speeds regularly exceed 25 mph. The agency plans to ramp up investment in those streets from $147,000 to $1.5 million.

The increased funding is slated to be used to add speed humps, narrow traffic lanes and implement signal changes — all low-cost measures that could have significant safety benefits. The efforts will focus on roadways such as Turk and Bryant streets — high-injury corridors that also have the potential to carry heavy volumes of pedestrians and bicyclists.

“We want to rebalance the funding to focus more funding on arterial streets where most of the pedestrian crashes and injuries are occurring,” said agency spokesman Paul Rose. “Slowing drivers down on these streets will potentially lessen the severity of the pedestrian crashes.”

Local streets will still get $1.1 million for upgrades. And roads in school zones will receive $150,000, slightly more than last year’s $113,000.

Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy organization, said the new funding focus is a welcome development.

“Hundreds of people get hit each year in the Tenderloin and the SoMa district, where these fast-moving arterial roads are,” Stampe said. “This is a citywide problem, so it’s promising that the issue is starting to attract notice.”

Still, Stampe said, it will take much more than $2.5 million a year to fully address pedestrian safety issues. There is about $32 million available each year from various funding sources for pedestrian improvements, but only a sliver of that gets used, Stampe said. She noted that the transit agency is pursuing extra funding measures, but it’s unclear if those efforts will pay off.

“Right now, the city leadership hasn’t made it a priority to come out and fix our streets,” Stampe said.

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Will Reisman

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