SFMTA unveiled a proposal last week to redesign northern Sixth Street by trimming traffic lanes from four to two, widening sidewalks, and adding unprotected, green-painted bike lanes. Intersections on the stretch between Market and Howard Streets could also get features like raised crosswalks, speed tables (like speed bumps, but wider), and textured pavement to tame driving speeds.
“This is super exciting,” said D6 Supervisor Jane Kim. While the plan already calls for converting many curbside parking spots to pedestrian space, Kim would like to see the plan for Sixth go farther, especially between Market and Mission Streets, because residents complain that parked cars are often used to obscure illegal behaviors like drug dealing. “Our residents don’t have cars, so they don’t feel the need for the metered parking,” she said.
Adam Gubser, project manager for the SFMTA, said environmental review on the project is expected to begin in January, which will flesh out how the redesign would affect street safety, car congestion, and the diversion of traffic to other streets. That process is expected to take 16 to 18 months, but there’s no firm construction timeline set yet.
When asked about including parking-protected bike lanes in the plan, SFMTA planners said the unprotected lanes in the proposal should be sufficient since traffic will be calmer and much of the lane will be curbside. They also said greater separation from motor vehicle traffic could potentially be added in the future if more parking is removed on Sixth.
Securing funding for the project, which according to preliminary estimates could cost in the range of $2 million to $5 million, should be a slam dunk, said Gubser. “Given the high pedestrian collisions we’re facing, it’s in line with the Mayor’s Directive on Pedestrian Safety, and the SFMTA’s goals of reducing injury collisions for pedestrians,” he said. “This is a project that is very likely to be funded.”
In the meantime, Gubser said the SFMTA will develop streetscape improvements to make the existing sidewalk space more attractive, including the installation of new lighting fixtures. Earlier this month, the agency installed the city’s first painted sidewalk extensions.
“We’re really hoping to create a different type of street that acknowledges that this is a real neighborhood,” said Kim, “not just a freeway on-ramp.”
See the SFMTA’s presentation on the project here [PDF].