Supervisor Mar Holds Better Streets Town Hall Meeting in the Richmond

intersection_pc.jpgPedestrians mix with cars at the intersection of Clement and 5th Avenue. There are stop signs for traffic on 5th Avenue, but not on Clement Street. Photo: Sue Vaughan

San Francisco’s Richmond District is blessed with stunning vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, but its street grid has turned its roads into feeder freeways, a fact that bedevils residents and pedestrian and bicycle advocacy organizations and has prompted calls for traffic calming and beautification.

To that end, this past Saturday District One Supervisor Eric Mar convened a town hall meeting with residents, city planners, DPW employees, Richmond District Police Captain Richard Corriea, and representatives of the SFBC, Senior Action Network, and Walk SF to discuss traffic issues and suggestions for streetscape improvements. 

Though there were suggestions from participants for streetscape improvements, which staff for Supervisor Mar collected and hope will be incorporated
the Planning Department’s Better Streets Plan and the Department of Public Works’ Great Streets Program
(GSP), the overwhelming concern was dangerous traffic.

“We need to start doing something to make the city more pedestrian friendly and more family friendly, “ said Anthony Lazarus who lives near 24th and Anza. “I’m not patient anymore.”

"When I think about better streets, I think about making them safe for my 9-year-old daughter," said Supervisor Mar.  "I also think about my close to 90-year-old mother.  I want to make sure the streets are safe for her when she’s walking."

Another town-hall participant, Pam Tau-Lee, said, “Every morning I take my life in my hands to cross [Fulton Street] to catch the bus,”  “There are rear-enders because people are not looking as I’m crossing the street.”

SFPD Captain Corriea noted that a decision had been made decades ago not to put commercial enterprises on Fulton Street, leaving it for Golden Gate Park, residences and four lanes of traffic – which led it to become what resident Karen Willman described as the “Fulton Freeway.”

Another street of concern, according to Corriea, is 43rd Avenue, a steep, recently repaved hill that links Geary Boulevard and Chain of Lakes Drive, used frequently by motorists traversing Golden Gate Park. There was a hit-and-run collision on 43rd not long ago. The young victim is still hospitalized, and a warrant has been sent out for the arrest of the driver, who may have been intoxicated at the time.

MTA traffic engineer Adam Gubser explained three “E’s” for improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists: education, enforcement, and engineering – obstacles that might slow down traffic while beautifying the streetscape at the same time. Corriea noted that officers have issued 4,200 traffic citations in the Richmond so far this year, up about 1,000 over the same time last year.

“I think the traffic stops are educational,” he said, noting that people slow down when they see other drivers pulled over. He was also open to moving his station’s speed trailer – an electronic sign that flashes the speed limit – around to where people thought it was necessary. “We think people slow down when the see it,” he said.

Community Ideas

Some participants voiced support for installing stop signs at 24th Avenue and Balboa, and at Clement Street and 5th Avenue to improve pedestrian safety. Another resident who lives near 8th Avenue at Fulton noted that traffic at 8th Avenue has increased since the loss of the 10th Avenue entrance into and out of the park.

Cassandra Costello, a resident of 4th Avenue, mentioned the possibility of “greening” parts of the triangle of pavement between 7th Avenue and Arguello and Cornwall and California, and the hope to create tree-studded medians like the one on 23rd Avenue, between Fulton and Cabrillo, in other parts of the district.

Kay Voydovich, of the Boulevard Neighbors User Group for the Park Presidio Community, recommended turning the dirt paths on the west side of Park Presidio into a bicycle or a disability access trail, and the dirt paths on the 14th Avenue side into pedestrian paths. All these paths would connect Mountain Lake to the Rose Garden and the de Young Museum.

Sunday Survey

I took a spin through the fog on Sunday afternoon and photographed a number of intersections and streetscapes that were mentioned as sites for beautification and traffic calming, including Park Presidio, Fulton Street, 43rd Avenue, and Clement at 5th Street – and I added one of my own: Arguello between Golden Gate, Cabrillo, and McAllister, three streets that feed into Arguello (there are no stop signs on Arguello there) near a grocery store and a popular café.

While I was on 43rd Avenue, I witnessed an officer cite a driver for flying through a stop sign without stopping. At 43rd and Fulton, I captured the Fulton Freeway experience as cars, and even an electrified 5-Fulton bus, whipped past me so quickly I could feel a non-ocean breeze.  At the aforementioned intersection of Arguello without stop signs, I snapped pictures of shoppers pushing baby carriages across the street.

At least one bicyclist at the meeting had expressed an affinity for the thick, slow traffic on Clement at 5th Avenue, traffic that he thought was self-regulating. In fact, I took pictures of pedestrians navigating comfortably through oncoming traffic at that intersection, just as if they were New Yorkers at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue near Port Authority. But all the while I was wondering what that intersection must be like for Jeanne Lynch, a woman at the meeting who uses a walker and who had expressed a desire for a stop sign; I took a picture of one middle-aged woman assisting her mother with a walker cross 5th Avenue from the east to the west side — but I know they would not have dared cross Clement itself.

  • Nick

    Implementation of traffic calming measures in SF is extremely slow and often residents are disappointed by the less than dramatic changes that do get installed.

    On one block in the Sunset residents requested traffic calming. After 6 months there were some community meetings and proposals and then more meetings. MTA then said the current design of the street prevented them from installing even a speed hump. I imagine they won’t bother asking again ever and that’s unfortunate.

    Another issue is cost. Why does a simple traffic circle cost $100,000 (an MTA rep gave me that quote as a reason they don’t use more of them).

    Random sidenote: residents on Kirkham St requested traffic calming in 2005. That plan would have been implmented, but was put on a 3-year hold as an unintended consequence of the Bike Plan lawsuit.

  • bmtea

    Part of the solution has to be an attitude readjustment of the residents w/r/t car culture. I live in a similar neighborhood in Dist. 11 and most people around here would be more willing to part from their firstborn than from their cars. We are drowning in cars.

  • Donovan b

    I moved to the Richmond three years ago from Upper Haight and was surprised by the depth of car culture. It’s expressed in everything from people and MUNI buses, running both stop signs and traffic lights, to speeding along quiet residential streets and major streets alike, to parking all over the sidewalk as if they owned it, to the number of cars each household owns. Too many people out there just don’t get it that they live in a city, not a suburb. I would be happy to see some drastic changes take place that really put a crimp in all that and that make car-centric people really feel it.

  • Anders

    “I took a picture of one middle-aged woman assisting her mother with a walker cross 5th Avenue from the east to the west side — but I know they would not have dared cross Clement itself.”

    Well put. I’m in town visiting my sister, who lives on Clement in the Richmond. We’ve been going for plenty of walks with my nephew, who is still in a stroller, and it simply does not feel safe enough to cross Clement unless there’s a stop sign (even then, you have to be cautious around here). While more pedestrian-friendly than streets in many other cities nationally, Clement in the Inner Richmond is hard to traverse for people with limited mobility or children in tow. A few stop signs, lights, or light-up pedestrian crosswalks could do a lot to fix that.

  • ZA

    It seems to me that the most significant improvement in the Richmond for both drivers and pedestrians in recent years have been the traffic lights on Geary. As someone who enjoys but does not live in the Richmond, my suggestions include:

    Significantly increasing the pedestrian amenities on Clement itself, with wider sidewalks, trees, and crossing bulb-outs.

    If cars are still allowed onto Clement, rearrange car parking to force slower winding around them. Supplement lost parking space with satellite areas like the old gas station near Cornwall, and metering the spots along the green Funston.

    Cars crossing onto Clement on parallel Avenues from either Geary or California need to be slowed down, calming from highway expectations to residential realities. I’d go so far as to suggest cutting off every other Avenue and reduce car access to one-way access on several of them. Physically cut off those now-illegal access routes with bollards or concrete planters. Designate as residential car parking first.

    On balance, this should still offer enough automobile access for Clement businesses, and increase the public safety & amenity for Richmond locals, and create funding sources to make this more self-sustaining.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

This Week: More Chances to Speak Up For a Transit-First Budget

|
This week, the SFMTA holds two more town hall budget meetings and considers two traffic circles at its engineering hearing. Meanwhile, neighbors and advocates convene to make sure the agency doesn’t forget about implementing safety improvements on 2nd Street (again). Here are all the highlights from the Streetsblog calendar: Tuesday: The SFMTA Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee meets. The committee […]

Livable Streets Concerns Overshadowed at Geary Blvd BRT Meeting

|
Supervisor Eric Mar, right, sought to ease concerns and set straight untrue rumors about the Geary BRT project. Photos: Michael Rhodes At a community meeting in the Richmond last night, planners from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and Supervisor Eric Mar sought public input on the Geary Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit project – and […]

This Week: Safer Potrero, Geary BRT Town Hall

|
Get involved in safety improvements on Potrero Avenue at a community workshop on Tuesday, and discuss the latest on the Geary Bus Rapid Transit project at a town hall hosted by Supervisor Eric Mar. Here are this week’s highlights from the Streetsblog calendar: Tuesday: The Department of Public Works and the SFMTA will hold a community meeting […]

Eyes on the Street: A Traffic Circle Sprouts Up in the Richmond

|
A new traffic circle has cropped up at 23rd and Anza Street in the Richmond District as part of traffic calming measures being implemented by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency. As KRON 4’s Stanley Roberts showed in his “People Behaving Badly” segment yesterday, some drivers are still getting used to the circle, since the treatment […]

Geary Blvd BRT Meeting Tonight in the Richmond

|
Image: SFCTA As the environmental review process moves forward for the Geary Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, Supervisor Eric Mar is holding a community meeting to discuss the many issues at stake along the city’s busiest bus route. As we’ve written, the Geary BRT will be complementary to the proposed Van Ness corridor project, […]

Bulb-Outs: Noe Valley’s Getting Them, Outer Balboa’s Got Them

|
Two business corridors are getting a boost from sidewalk bulb-outs: Balboa Street in the Outer Richmond recently had some finished, and 24th Street in Noe Valley will get them this fall. The dozen-odd sidewalk extensions on outer Balboa were completed in May as part of a larger project under construction since last year that also includes […]