SFMTA Sets 25 MPH Limits on Four SoMa Streets. Time for Speed Cams?

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Speed limits have been lowered from 30 MPH to 25 MPH on Howard, Folsom, Harrison, and Bryant Streets in the South of Market area, the SFMTA announced yesterday.

Howard Street. Photo: geekstinkbreath/Flickr

The agency approved the speed limit reductions last year as “an effective way to improve pedestrian and traffic safety in the area,” said SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin in a statement. “When traveling at a slightly reduced speed motorists have more time to react, making the roadway safer for everyone.”

Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe applauded the measure to calm traffic on “wide, fast, freeway-like streets,” which see the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities in the city. ”Every day, more people are living, working, and walking in SoMa, and safer speeds here will be better for everyone.”

But while physical changes to the street will also be needed to effectively slow car traffic, SFMTA board member Cheryl Brinkman said that “enforcing those speed limits will continue to be a challenge,” and she’s “determined to get camera-based speed enforcement on the legislative agenda for next year.”

“If we cannot afford the level of police officer coverage needed to keep drivers from routinely breaking the law and endangering our citizens, we need to move with the technology of the times and start automating enforcement as Chicago is doing,” said Brinkman. Chicago recently approved a program that enables the city to blanket streets near schools with speed enforcement cameras.

A statement from SFPD Chief Greg Suhr didn’t mention any plans to increase enforcement in the area, though he said “traffic safety is one of the many missions of the SFPD.”

“Through the combined efforts of SFMTA traffic engineers and SFPD education and enforcement campaigns, we can make the city’s streets safer for all who use them,” said Suhr.

The new speed limits are now in effect on Howard from the Embarcadero to South Van Ness Avenue; on Folsom and Howard from the Embarcadero to 13th Street; and on Bryant from the Embarcadero to 11th Street. The SFMTA said it installed 13 signs in addition to the ones they replaced to help ensure drivers are aware of the change.

Brinkman said she’s “thrilled that we’re continuing to review and lower speed limits in SOMA and across the city,” adding that she ”can see a time coming when all but a few key streets will have 20 MPH speed limits, making walking, biking and just being on the street much more pleasant and safe.”