Planning Commission Approves Ped-Friendly Plan for Market and Dolores

As part of a newly-approved agreement, developers will add a sidewalk extension at Market and Dolores to make room for a mini plaza. Image: ##http://2001marketsf.com/?page_id=9##Prado Group##

A plan to add a mini plaza and pedestrian safety improvements at Market and Dolores streets was approved by the SF Planning Commission on Thursday. The project will include new pedestrian refuges and sidewalks as wide as 14 feet, as well as special pavement treatments to highlight crosswalks on the block of Dolores between Market and 14th Streets. The crosswalk on Dolores at Clinton Park, a side street, will also be raised.

Image via ##http://sf.curbed.com/archives/2012/02/27/movement_for_2001_market.php##Curbed SF##

The plan received unanimous approval from commissioners, who were not swayed by some neighbors who opposed the conversion of two traffic lanes to pedestrian space on a short, lightly-trafficked section of Dolores. The improvements were part of a city agreement with the developers of an 85-unit apartment building and Whole Foods Market under construction at the corner. The arrangement calls for the developer to install the street upgrades in lieu of $510,000 in impact fees.

“The current design allows cars to whip around the corner quickly onto Dolores, endangering people who are crossing,” Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe wrote in a letter to the Planning Commission in support of the project. “Dolores itself is also a high-speed street, making conditions more dangerous for all users, since any collisions are made much more serious at higher vehicle speeds.”

D8 Supervisor Scott Wiener praised the plan because it “appropriately balances pedestrian safety with traffic flow in the area. It’s a unique opportunity that we’re not gonna have again to do this upgrade.”

“If you’ve ever walked that intersection or driven by it, it is an incredibly wide, long pedestrian crossing — one of the longest in the area,” he said.

Market and Dolores, seen before construction began on an apartment building and Whole Foods Market at the corner on the right. Image: Google Maps

Pedestrian upgrades for Market and Dolores were originally introduced years ago in the Market-Octavia Plan. Wiener, who has called for safety improvements at upper Market’s wide intersections, noted that with increased development along the corridor comes more pedestrian activity as well as opportunities to fund long-needed street improvements. “As this area becomes more active, it is going to be even more important that we reduce that crossing so that people are able to get across the intersection safely.”

“We talk a lot in San Francisco about improving pedestrian safety and creating livable streets,” said Wiener. “We have a lot of great plans for different parts of the city that are sitting on the shelf collecting dust because we usually don’t have the funding to actually implement” them.

The proposal was backed by the neighborhood group Dolores United, but opposed by members of the Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association, who called for smaller 8-foot bulb-outs at the T-intersection with Market to avoid any reduction in the number of existing traffic lanes.

Image via ##http://sf.curbed.com/archives/2012/02/27/movement_for_2001_market.php##Curbed SF##

At the most, the neck-down would add a “negligible” traffic delay of one second during commute hours, said Planning Department staffer Greg Riessen, who conducted the “Level of Service” traffic analysis for the project. MDNA reps said they simply didn’t believe Riessen’s analysis, and member Marius Starkey called the project “politically-motivated social engineering” pushed by Wiener.

Wiener said he actually opposed the Planning Department’s original proposal to remove the two traffic lanes along the entire block between Market and 14th Streets, because he thought it would lead to too much car congestion, leading planners to scale back the plan.

Former Walk SF Board President Manish Champsee, who lives in the neighborhood, pointed to Valencia Street as an example of how road diets can make a street calmer and safer. “When you’re talking about pedestrian safety, that’s the important thing, is slowing people down,” he said. “Every little bit counts.”

Peter Tannen, a neighbor and retired transportation planner who worked on the Valencia road diet, vouched for the validity of Riessen’s traffic analysis. Champsee also vouched for Riessen’s expertise. “If we’re going to believe somebody, I would believe him over random neighbors, including myself, frankly,” said Champsee.

Coincidentally, Wiener introduced a package of legislation last week at the Board of Supervisors to help streamline pedestrian safety upgrades, including one intended to make it easier for developers of projects like the one at Market and Dolores to install them. In her letter to the Planning Commission, Stampe noted that the Market/Dolores project “will set a precedent to prioritize pedestrian improvements as part of future development.”

“When you do a plan and you actually have impact fees, you want to see them come to fruition, and this is what this agreement is actually doing,” said Tomiqua Moss, community planning policy director for SPUR. “It’s bringing it to life.”

  • reality check

    Smart move by the developer to pay for these changes. Wider sidewalks and shorter/safer street crossings will attract customers and increase the value of the housing units.

  • I walk by there all the time, and I gotta say these changes are long overdue.

    Now if they could just make that hill a little less steep…

  • Orville

    The term “Ped” used in the title and elsewhere in this blog is about as endearing as using “fixie”.

  • And don’t worry, we’re sure this won’t turn into an impromptu homeless camp…

  • I live right near the Clinton Park/Dolores intersection and cannot tell you how happy I am to see these changes. The intersection in its current state is disorganized and dangerous for pedestrians. Thank you Scott Weiner!

  • Rode by here Saturday and was struck by just how massive this new building is. Let’s hope all the new residents walk, bike and take transit a lot. I’m also hoping this new Whole Foods will reduce pressure on the Noe Valley Whole Foods. (Maybe the N V Whole Foods could finally put in a decent walkway through the parking lot for pedestrians?) Slowly but surely much of the automobile infrastructure of San Francisco (former auto dealerships, former gas stations, former freeways, former parking lots) is turning into multi-story housing.

  • Anonymous

    It is very massive. I’m hoping the finished building will not be as ugly as the one in SoMa with 3 stories of parking and condos that look air dropped from Phoenix. The pedestrian improvements are very welcome though.

  • PGS_SF

    A request on pedestrian safety in the form of crosswalk bulbouts: Please make sure these are visible to the sight lines of cyclists who tend to choose the safety of staying close to the curb and need to keep their eyes on cars. A collision with a bulb-out once landed me in the hospital with a lacerated liver and a punctured kidney.

  • reality check

    Sorry about your internal organs – sounds rough. To avoid crashes, it is better to ride in a straight, predictable line rather than in and out of the parking lane. Usually one does this so that you are predictable and don’t end up coming back into traffic unexpectedly and surprising drivers, but to not hit a bulb out is another good reason.

  • MoFoPlz

    Yeah. Not a fan. ‘Ped’ makes me think of ‘Pedo’ the UK/Irish slang for Pedophilia.

  • GoGhoti

    I’m a Clinton Park resident who was unaware this was approved until they started cutting up the street and putting in the new crosswalks. At the risk of being contrary, I think this design is fraught with peril to everyone concerned. Traffic is anything but light at this intersection, especially during commute times. By taking away lanes for cars, you’re going to have backups beyond 14th street and a nightmare for everyone at Dolores and Market.

  • Anonymous

    “By taking away lanes for cars, you’re going to have backups beyond 14th street and a nightmare for everyone at Dolores and Market.”

    You simply assume motorists will be incapable of adjusting to changing conditions. If traffic were indeed to back up on Dolores past 14th, isn’t it reasonable to assume motorists will then choose to travel on Guerrero and/or Church instead?

  • Anonymous

    Maybe an object lesson in being more aware of what is going on around you.

  • ashroc

    would have been smarter as an idea if they would not allow trucks to drive in the area. I just saw a big rig get stuck there yesterday, driving up on the new sidewalk, which doesn’t seem safe to me. It’s ridiculous, since Dolores isn’t weight restricted, but Guerrero is weight restricted. Where are the trucks supposed to drive? And there is no signage letting trucks know not to drive there. Seems like a massive oversight. I don’t know why the Board of Supervisors and Planning commission can’t get out a map and look at the entire area, and work with the Department of Parking and Traffic before messing up a street designed by Frederick Law Ulmstead.