SFMTA: 15 MPH School Zones Could Be Implemented Within the Year

Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynnfriedman/5538883754/sizes/z/in/photostream/##Lynn Friedman##

Many streets could become safer for children walking and biking to school with a project in the works to lower speed limits within school zones to 15 mph. New signs warning drivers could be in the ground as early as this winter, according to an SFMTA staff report [pdf], granted the funds are approved next month by the SF County Transportation Authority.

“It’s a very important item because it’s very visible and we think it will have a measurable impact on school safety and it can be done fairly quickly,” SFMTA Sustainable Streets Director Bond Yee told the Board of Directors yesterday.

About 200 schools have already been identified by staff as potentially eligible within the criteria of the California vehicle code, the report states. The project was mandated in an Executive Directive issued by former Mayor Gavin Newsom last December and has been urged by advocates and city officials.

“I know there’s a lot of thought from the supervisors and the public that we’re not doing enough,” said Director Cheryl Brinkman.

Each school zone would need to be approved by the board, and each local jurisdiction would have to adopt the changes by resolution, said Yee. But the number of streets that could be affected is no small number.

“It’s a pretty big scale,” said Yee. “When you draw a radius around each school in San Francisco, 200 schools would probably cover most of the city.”

Board Chair Tom Nolan expressed support for the measure but cautioned against its potential to slow down already crawling Muni lines. Yee said staffers are doubtful the impacts would be significant.

“Muni operates more on the major streets, and these signs are more applicable next to the schools on streets that are 30 mph or less and with a certain number of lanes,” he said.

Conditions like a street’s history of crashes and a “residential density threshold” are also taken into account during evaluations. The project’s total costs are estimated at $361,700, with $30-40,000 of that needed for planning.

  • Joel

    Would you happen to have a list of the 200 possible sites?

  • mikesonn

    “It’s a pretty big scale,” said Yee. “When you draw a radius around each school in San Francisco, 200 schools would probably cover most of the city.”
    Exactly!

  • It wasn’t available in the report, but we’ll request it and let you know.

  • Mr Traffic Guide

    For the past 3 years, I have personally been at the curb for 3 SF schools helping as traffic coordinator and volunteer…rain and shine. I have spoken with the SFMTA, SFPD and SFUSD numerous times. I have participated on multiple grant-funded programs that were designed to help identify the problem areas. I have also sat and watched as each agency points fingers at each other and defers any sort of ownership.

    ““I know there’s a lot of thought from the supervisors and the public that we’re not doing enough,” said Director Cheryl Brinkman.” Cheryl…you aren’t doing ANYTHING. Quit screwing around with the press releases and get the DPT and SFPD off their butts to start ticketing against the EXISTING laws. Get parents to walk students or take alternative transportation. Get parents who do need to drive to adhere to laws. And get the SFUSD to step up and participate.

    I am constantly disgusted at the “walk to school”/”bike to school” days where everyone rallies around and gets the free swag, then goes right back to their normal routines. Makes for great press and a crappier environment.

  • Here’s the list. It’s also linked in the article now.

  • Triple0

    Why is this such a large undertaking for MTA?  Change the signs, put out cops during school time and publicize the hell out of it, and conduct regular, random stings.  Make drivers know that during school times, there’s a high likelihood cops will be out with radar guns like they do in suburbs all across the country.

    As for the 15 MPH designation, its nothing new.  Ida B. Wells High School (next to Alamo Square Park) already has a 15 MPH. (street view of school+sign: http://goo.gl/afJ8h

  • Joel

    Thanks!

  • JF

    The problem is that the MTA can’t tell the SFPD to do something. There simply does not exist the kind of relationship where the two agencies can coordinate something like this. Now if the mayor directed both agencies to do something, maybe the zones would be enforced.

    The salt in the wound is that the PD draws in millions of dollars in work orders from the MTA for enforcement. Yet, the MTA can’t get them to enforce such things as school zones.

    Getting the PD to enforce school zones; now there’s something parents could get behind!

  • Anonymous

    Somehow I can’t picture the MTA pushing for a 15MPH speed limit on Fell at Webster, next to John Muir School.  They won’t tackle the rampant speeding on Fell as it is, and somehow seem to think that putting up 25MPH signs means people will drive that speed. 
    MTA still seems to measure projects against auto throughput standards. 
    It will be interesting to see how willing they are to make the streets safer for children.  I’m not holding my breath. 

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