Mini-Stretch of 15th St. Goes on Road Diet for SFMTA’s “Home Zone” Project

Photo: SFMTA

Two blocks of 15th Street, from South Van Ness Avenue to Mission Street, went on a road diet this week. It’s part of the SF Municipal Transportation Agency’s “Home Zone” pilot project to study the effects of concentrated traffic calming measures on a few blocks around Marshall Elementary School, with the aim of creating a haven of slow-speed streets.

The reduction from two traffic lanes to one is part of the first phase of safety measures planned for that stretch of one-way 15th Street, as well as the connecting single blocks of four alleyways: Minna, Natoma, Capp, and Adair Streets. By narrowing the roadway for drivers, it also creates some unofficial “edge line” room for bicycle riders between the traffic lane and the parking lane. This improvement is one of the few pieces the SFMTA has implemented since the project’s final report [PDF] was approved in June of last year. Two more phases should follow.

The plan also calls for raised crosswalks, speed humps, narrower lanes, bulb-outs and permeable pavement. A timeline isn’t immediately available, but the SFMTA will evaluate the effects of each phase in sequence, according to the report. The project could serve as a model for the “school track” of the agency’s traffic calming program, which aims to bring driver speeds down to the new 15 MPH school zone speed limits. The SFMTA is also planning to overhaul how it implements its overall traffic calming program next spring.

  • Me

    I drove down this stretch the other day and think they could have done a much better job for bikers.  Instead of creating a nice wide bike lane, they have created two small bike lanes within the door zone.  They should restripe this section with the lane closer to the parking on the left, and an actual bike line entirely outside of the door zone.

  • Tom Radulovich

    I wish they had made 15th a two-way traffic-calmed street instead; it would have made a nice bike boulevard connection from the Wiggle on into the Mission.

  • Sprague

    This looks like wonderful improvements and it makes great sense to slow traffic speeds and improve pedestrian safety in the vicinity of schools, especially those schools with high numbers of kids arriving by foot and bicycle.  Raised crosswalks are commonplace in some European cities.  They certainly slow vehicle speeds to safer levels at the point of greatest potential conflict/collision with pedestrians.  Tom’s suggestion for 15th Street is exciting.  Perhaps 15th Street could remain one-way for cars westbound but become two-way for cyclists (with an eastbound parking protected bicycle lane)?

  • Sebraleaves

    What is the point of spending money on bicycle lanes on 15th street when there new lanes going in two blocks away on 17th street? Is this how SFMTA fixes Muni and makes the buses run on time? There is no traffic on 15th Street or was none until SFMTA started putting in traffic controls on 17th street. The best way to calm traffic is with stop signs. You have to slow down to stop. Bicycles should stop at stop signs as well. That would do the trick at a lot less expense,

  • because 17th Sucks with a capital S. 15th is much better to ride on. But as is, once you get past South Van Ness, it’s a bit of a zoo, because hands down the majority of bike riders on 15th are turning left onto Valencia and so they take the left lane. This confuses the bejeezus out of the addled drivers.

  • and if you read – the point was slowing traffic down near a school. Two lanes here and little traffic equals speeding… which is bad near a school which ostensibly means a 15 MPH zone (universally ignored unless the road is manipulated)

  • as i noted below, riding on the left side is preferred by the majority of cyclists on 15th because the majority of them are headed for a left onto Valencia.

  • 15th St is regularly backed up WB from Guerrero to Market at busy times of day, and for much of the day on weekends. What are you talking about, no traffic on there?!? Also, 17th doesn’t connect to the Wiggle.

    Please, more of this! Even better would be to remove the parking on one side of the street to make room for bikes.

  • Gneiss

    OMG – Can we please make 15th without parking and with a bike lane on the uphill side between Church and Market?  I avoid that stretch getting onto Sanchez because it’s so unnerving when it narrows there.  I would take it rather than Church if it was wider.

  • Collinssfca

    I don’t understand and I don’t think anyone at SFMTA can explain why those 3 blocks of 15th street is one way.   Any one?  It seems like a 1950’s leftover.

  • Well, the section that was redone is nowhere near Market to Guerrero, so I suspect we’re all good!

  • Bryanb

    Collinssfca,

    15th Street is one-way because 14th Street is one-way in the other direction. That leads to better traffic flows than having both as two-way streets. I cannot think of a major city that doesn’t use one-way streets and in fact San Francisco has less of them than any other city I know. In Manhattan, for instance, almost every street is one-way.

    Either side of 14th and 15th, there is Duboce and 16th Street, for those who prefer two-way streets, however.

  • Guest

    When did 15th become one-way? Was it when 14th changed? I wonder if it could be made one-way all the way up to market, to parallel 14th. If the lights had good timing and the pavement were new, I might even start riding on it regularly again. (I switched to 13th when they repaved it–it has a pinch point at SVN but otherwise is actually quite nice to ride on as far as Valencia. Duboce up the hill, not so much.)

  • Sebraleaves

    I dare you to find any speeding traffic on 15th Street. Stop signs are the cheapest traffic calming device know. Check out all the stop signs on 17th Street. You have four of them in a row. Very slow moving traffic on 17th Street. Why don’t they take their traffic calming experiments to a bicycle neighborhood like Valencia and leave us alone.

  • Sprague

    Stop signs increase automotive noise and air pollution.  This is undesirable in many locations, including adjacent to a school.  If stop signs were such a great traffic calming device, San Francisco would already be a safe place for pedestrians (most four-way intersections have them, throughout the city).  As a pedestrian, stop signs often don’t make me feel much safer.  Motorists tend to look for other cars when they roll to the intersection.  Pedestrians typically aren’t on their radar (from my experience).  If vehicles are forced to slow as they approach crosswalks, because the crosswalks are raised and because the street narrows, motorists have more time to recognize pedestrians and react accordingly.  Thank you to the MTA for implementing proven traffic calming features that have made neighborhoods and streets safer and more livable elsewhere.

  • Sprague

    I finally bicycled this recently repainted stretch of 15th Street and my one experience since it was repainted makes me feel like the street now does not work as well for cyclists (between South Van Ness and Mission).  Before this change, there were two lanes so cyclists could safely ride in the right lane.  I never felt like I was infringing upon or in the way of impatient motorists – since traffic was generally light.  Now, if one rides out of the door zone one is on the edge of/nearly in the sole vehicle lane – possibly appearing to infringe upon the already reduced breadth of the street remaining in use for moving automobiles.  There almost certainly is no need for two car lanes in this section of 15th Street and the reduction to one lane helps calm the street and discourage speeding, as well as enhance pedestrian visibility at the crosswalks.  In the interest of traffic calming and “complete” street design, I agree with Me’s comment that the creation of a wide (and out-of-the-door zone) bike lane would have been preferable for all street users.  As to the other improvements, both planned and already implemented, they are clearly welcome!