A redesign of Folsom Street in the Mission District aimed at calming motor traffic and improving conditions for walking and bicycling is one step closer to becoming a reality. A proposal to add bike lanes and bus bulbs is now on its way to the SFMTA Board of Directors.
The street “was identiﬁed through the Eastern Neighborhoods process as a green axis, linking major parks and open spaces with a grand boulevard,” according to the Mission Streetscape Plan that is guiding the road diet proposal.
The project would take advantage of a re-paving opportunity to implement short-term lane striping changes from 13th to 24th Streets, laying the groundwork for the long-term construction of green medians developed in the plan from community meetings, said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. Car-accessible travel lanes would be reduced from four to two wider lanes for buses while accommodating bike lanes, left-turn pockets, and sidewalk extensions at six bus stop corners, also known as bus bulbs.
Although the plan didn’t originally include bike lanes and would reduce planted median space, they were introduced based on feedback from six community workshops. Residents expressed “a lot of interest in calming Folsom Street and returning it to a family-friendly street that people can feel more comfortable walking and biking on,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “It can be done relatively quickly and cheaply, and that’s great.”
The Folsom Street bike lanes would also be welcome as the first continuous connection from the Mission to the existing bike lanes in SoMa, said Shahum. “The Harrison Street bike lane, which is just a couple of blocks over, is already really packed in the morning. It’s going to be great for the growing numbers of people riding to have a welcoming, safe route,” she said.
Ilaria Salvidori, an urban designer at the SF Planning Department’s City Design Group who is working on the Mission Streetscape Plan, emphasized the profound effect the proposed striping changes would have. “The road diet is the biggest step forward in the direction of changing the street,” she said.
The plan’s bus bulbs, which would also include new transit shelters, were particularly favored by WalkSF executive director Elizabeth Stampe at the proposal’s hearing. “I think [the proposal] really has the potential to transform Folsom. In some ways, it’s already a beautiful street – it’s got some of the best tree cover in the city,” said Stampe.