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Beyond Pavement: What the Streets Bond Will Buy
Posted By Nathanael Johnson On November 23, 2011 @ 2:53 pm In Bicycle Infrastructure,Pedestrian Infrastructure | 17 Comments
When San Franciscans voted to fix crumbling streets by approving Proposition B , they also approved nearly $90 million for pedestrian, bike, and transit projects. It will give certain Muni lines the power to change traffic signals, and pay for sidewalk improvements and bike lanes.
“Prop B gives us the opportunity to really catch up on our streets—not just fixing potholes, but actually making the streets better from an urban design perspective,” said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR.
Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk SF, said the value of these projects will make the borrowing worthwhile. “These are exactly the kind of investments that it makes sense to use a bond for,” she said. “They are long-term improvements that will improve the safety and walkability of our streets.”
Much of the money is assigned to specific projects, but the largest chunk—$50 million—will be divvied up through a political process. This money could be used to stripe bike lanes, plant trees, install new lights, or otherwise improve streetscapes. Planners will be holding meetings in 2012 to determine where this pot of funding should go.
“I think the biggest opportunities for pedestrian improvements are on the neighborhood commercial streets,” Metcalf said. “These are the central places within every neighborhood in the city, the places where activity is concentrated and where we want to create a truly comfortable and inviting public realm.”
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will be advocating for money to go to dedicated bike lanes, said Executive Director Leah Shahum. “They are proven to draw more people onto bikes, improve safety, and connect neighborhoods with real, low-cost, bang for your buck,” she said, before reeling off a list of streets where a little money could go a long way: Masonic Avenue, Jefferson Street near Fisherman’s Warf, Polk Street, the Embarcadero, Ocean and Geneva Avenues. “This is just a partial list,” she said. “Obviously there’s not enough money to do everything.”
The funding has the potential to save lives. More than half of pedestrian deaths and severe injuries occur on just 6.7 percent of streets by length, noted Tom Radulovich, head of Livable City. “I don’t want to miss that opportunity. As they move through the city, any time the resurfacing touches on of that 6.7 percent, we should be making improvements.”
The rest of the $90 million, beyond the $50 million for streetscapes, breaks down as follows:
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 approving Proposition B: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/11/17/repair-bond-will-improve-streets-but-doesn%E2%80%99t-solve-underlying-problem
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