SF Planning Unveils Design for a More Ped-Friendly Broadway in Chinatown

A rendering of the plan for Broadway at the east tunnel entrance. Images: SF Planning Department

The SF Planning Department this week unveiled its final design for pedestrian improvements on a stretch of Broadway in Chinatown.

The design, which was narrowed down through an extensive community planning process, would add sidewalk extensions, crosswalk improvements, trees, seating, lighting, and bike sharrows between the Broadway Tunnel and Columbus Avenue.

The plan [PDF] would not reduce any of the four traffic lanes or include bike lanes, as was originally proposed in other design options, but those changes could still come in the future. Lily Langlois, the lead planner on the project, said workshop participants showed little support for bike lanes until substantial bike improvements are made in the frightening Broadway Tunnel, which would most likely require re-purposing a tunnel lane for bicycles in each direction. (A bike-activated beacon signal was installed, then upgraded, by the SFMTA, but few, if any, bicyclists seem comforted by it.) She said the real estate for conventional bike lanes outside of the tunnel could come from a westbound traffic lane, though the bulb-outs seem to make a potential protected bike lane more difficult to implement.

Also dropped from an earlier proposal was a pedestrian scramble at Stockton. Langlois said staff determined that the intersection was too wide for a scramble, but that corner bulb-outs should sufficiently reduce crossing distances, which she said was the primary concern at the intersection voiced by participants.

The improvements in the current project are expected to create a more welcoming environment for people on the three blocks of Broadway between the east opening of the tunnel and Columbus Avenue. The project is the fourth and final phase of a 20-year effort to improve Broadway following the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway. The intent is to make the street “a destination, as opposed to a freeway connector, and a place to pass through,” said Deland Chan, senior planner at the Chinatown Community Development Center.

Grant and Broadway.

Two other phases have already been implemented between Battery and Montgomery (in 2005) and between Grant and Kearny (in 2008). The third phase, between Kearny and Montgomery, is under construction this year.

Over 70 people attended the celebratory open house this week, said Chan, including D3 Supervisor David Chiu, Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, and Planning Director John Rahaim.

The planning department still needs to find funding for this phase and couldn’t pinpoint a timeline for construction. However, the Prop B street improvements bond and the One Bay Area Grant are the primary options for funding.

Broadway and Stockton.
Broadway at Grant.
Broadway between Grant and Stockton. See the full plan view in this ##http://www.sf-planning.org/ftp/files/plans-and-programs/in-your-neighborhood/chinatown_broadway_110217/Final-Design-Plan.pdf##PDF##.
Broadway between Powell and the east tunnel entrance.
  • mikesonn

    If traffic is still traveling 40 mph+ (which it will continue to do) it’ll still be unpleasant (since the first 2 phases did nothing to slow traffic), but the trees will look pretty and the bulb outs should be nice.

  • People in SF are always congratulating themselves about their “urbanity,” but they then turn around and landscape their streets as if this was Terra Linda.

  • mikesonn

    Yeah, should be a concrete jungle. This coming from a guy who hates high rises and the best form of urban transportation, the bicycle.

  • Abe

    Those trees aren’t just decoration. They’ll cut down the auto noise considerably for the people in the buildings that line this street.

    How is that a bad thing?

  • guest

    A) If you’re trying to make some analogy, it helps to use a reference point people have heard of. 

    B) It’s not as if one can choose any type of tree for landscaping in San Francisco. Mediterranean climates and strong winds owing to our geographic location make establishing any kind of tree difficult, and many other candidates can’t survive in narrow islands, or the tree roots are so shallow cities won’t allow them.

  • it seems like the only way to help pedestrians in nyc, sf, and sj is to %*#$ cyclists.

    maybe it’s in the code somewhere — “Whatever you do, young traffic engineer, make sure it %$^$s cyclists — this will prove you are doing it right.”

    they’re def doing it right.

    how many major streets in SF are left to allow cycling? Divis is gone. Geary, Van Ness, and all the other BRT routes are gone. Chavez is gone. Here is Broadway. 19th is not gone yet prob only b/c it’s not owned by SF. The Great Highway will be underwater soon, and it’s a hole anyways.

    Hooray, public process. We need some SF Urban Repair Squad action.

  • mikesonn

    What would make Broadway better for cycling? Really? The SFMTA wants cyclists to use the tunnel on the actual road, are they nuts? That’s a death wish. I ride Broadway every day from EMB to Columbus and I wouldn’t wish that on even Rob Anderson. It’s crappy, it’s uphill, and I constantly get right hooked. I’m so so lucky I don’t live on the west side of Russian Hill, but if I did, I would use Polk or North Point, not Broadway.

  • Why is the SF Bike Coalition so silent on this issue! This would be an awesome campaign to rally people behind. Get bike lanes on Broadway, including the tunnel now! The city is a lot larger than the Mission and Soma. Truly a missed opportunity if they don’t.

  • mikesonn

    Put the bike lanes where? We can’t take a parking lane on Fell/Oak, you think we are going to be able to get a lane in both directions in the Broadway tunnel?

  • Mather_Matters

    somehow the bike lanes on sloat are always empty – and the far reaches of the city that have been repainted to include generous bike lanes see little if any bike traffic, while making driving a bit odd.

    hmmmm… more planning?

  • Mather_Matters

    Begging for NO MORE FLAX on the islands. They grow huge, tall and wide, impede vision, and have to be chopped back, which looks pretty bad. (Check out Alemany)

    More trees and plants you can “see thru” please.

  • murphstahoe

    by odd do you mean slower? Because pedestrians are getting killed on Sloat…

    Frankly when I bike on Sloat the “car lanes” are always empty. Not surprising, that’s the least dense part of the city.

  • Mather_Matters

    had no idea about pedestrian deaths on sloat. wish that all the streets were slowed.

    by odd i mean lanes end abruptly forcing cars to continue into bike lanes if they are not let over.

    and – about pedestrians – wish we would have some public service announcements telling people to look out – grabbed a pregnant woman back from stepping in front of a car because she “had the light”. physics is physics – and if the driver isn’t stopping, the pedestrian should be watchful… it is painful to think of people dying because they have the right of way and trust that to keep them safe. yes, they (we) walkers should have the right of way, but, like maritime law, the larger vehicle that cannot stop or may not see you should be given wide berth using maximum caution.

  • 94103er

    OK, dude, whatever. I guess we keep comments open on old posts in case there are useful updates or update requests (e.g., has this Broadway project been relegated to the city’s dustbin like so many others done by the Planning Department?)

    But if you’re going to ramble on incoherently on old posts, at least check your facts. We do, in fact, have a ‘Be nice, look twice’ ad campaign going on, and many intersections do have ‘Look’ painted on them.

    But yes, sometimes the best of us develop tunnel vision. All we can do to prevent more right-of-way violations and reduce street deaths is to slow down our streets with those puzzling, dastardly bike lanes and update our intersections (Google Nick Falbo).

  • Mather_Matters

    So you think the “Be nice look twice” campaign is effective? Where are those “look” intersections – and who is looking?? Step it up.

    And you are kinda rude. Incoherent? Yeah, sounds like you do not understand.

  • 94110

    Driving and biking on Sloat is odd, and bumpy. Despite not being an official bike street, I often choose to bike on Ocean where it’s parallel to Sloat.

    Overall, Sloat is a terrible example of everything and works well for no one.

    The only thing Sloat does well is give an example of why the California DOT should not have anything to do with city street design.

    Overall, you get far flung empty and odd bike lanes, because there are far flung empty and odd streets to put them on. Nobody cares about these streets, so they are an engineer’s playground.

  • 94103er

    It’s a feeble and unspecific slogan, but at least the city brass is paying attention now–see also the Vision Zero campaign. Give it time.

    What’s great about Streetsblog is that we’re all pretty good about keeping comments germane to the topic and generally pretty civil to one another unless someone’s really just veering off-course topic-wise and making unverifiable claims. That said, I’ll apologize for calling your comment incoherent, but getting on a two-year-old post and leaving kind of here-and-there comments about whatever’s bothering you today isn’t contributing much to a fruitful discussion.

  • Guest

    I’m still upset they took protected bike lanes through the tunnel and down to the Embarcadero off the table early in the planning process for this. Broadway should be so much more than just another traffic sewer.

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