Skip to content

Posts from the "Greenstreets" Category

8 Comments

SFPUC Unveils New Green Designs for Holloway, Plaza at Mission/Valencia

This post supported by

SFPUC’s rendering of the plan for a new plaza at Mission and Valencia Streets, created by converting two traffic lanes.

The SF Public Utilities Commission unveiled final redesign concepts last week for two projects that would mean more space for pedestrians and stormwater-absorbing greenery. One project will bring traffic-calming bulb-outs and “rain gardens” to the eastern stretch of Holloway Avenue, a major east-west bike route in Ingleside. The other would convert two traffic lanes at Mission and Valencia Streets into a new plaza with green bulb-outs that would extend to the entrance of the Tiffany bike boulevard, altogether creating what planners call a “Green Gateway.”

Both projects appear to have garnered broad support among neighbors who participated in the design processes, though they each require the removal of a handful of car parking spaces — the usual point of contention in street redesigns. It’s a refreshing outcome compared to the battles over re-allocating car space typically seen in other city-led planning efforts.

“These projects are perfect examples of smart solutions to our city’s pedestrian safety problems,” said Nicole Schneider, executive director of Walk SF, who applauded the projects for “connecting safety with sustainability.”

“These are excellent models for how we can support holistic changes to our public spaces that tackle multiple problems,” she said. “We often see that the most dangerous streets also lack green space — picture Sixth Street or Folsom. We’d like to see more projects like these prioritized on our most dangerous streets.”

“We need more efforts where we have community space,” said D9 Supervisor David Campos, who noted that the Mission and Valencia plaza could serve as a “centerpiece” for the neighborhood south of Cesar Chavez Street. “That neighborhood hasn’t been getting enough attention.”

Only minor tweaks to the Mission and Valencia plan have been made following the last community meeting. Changes include the removal of greenery along the curb that faces Mission to make room for a bus stop to be moved there from across the street. Only 10 parking spaces will be removed for the sidewalk expansions, with some replacement spots added by converting parallel parking spots on the east side of Valencia to back-in angled parking.

Read more…

8 Comments

Creating a Safer “Green Gateway” at Valencia and Mission Streets

A vision for Valencia Street's south end at Mission Street, where two right-turn lanes would be converted into stormwater-absorbing plaza. Image: SFPUC

A chunk of roadway at Valencia and Mission Streets would be reclaimed to create a plaza designed to make the corner more pedestrian-friendly and absorb stormwater under a project led by the SF Public Utilities Commission.

The Valencia and Mission Green Gateway Project would widen sidewalks and add greenery and permeable pavement treatments along the southernmost block of Valencia, between Mission and Duncan Street, where it also intersects with the Tiffany Avenue bike boulevard.

Under designs presented by the SFPUC, the SFMTA, the Department of Public Works, and the SF Planning Department at an open house yesterday, the two right-turn traffic lanes on southbound Valencia at Mission would be converted to the permeable plaza, shortening a long crosswalk that currently crosses five lanes. The sidewalk would be expanded out to the existing refuge island.

“We’re making traffic make more sense,” said Raphael Garcia, project manager for the SFPUC.

The southbound end of Valencia would get a narrowed roadway, but an extension of the Valencia bike lane to Mission shown on an initial rendering for the project won’t be included, because that block is not part of an official bike route, according to Adam Gubser, a planner at the SFMTA’s Livable Streets subdivision. Instead, the block will retain two southbound traffic lanes so that Muni buses on the 36-Teresita line, which make a right turn there, aren’t delayed by car traffic waiting to turn, he said. Parallel parking spaces on the east side of the block would also be converted to back-in angled parking spaces to minimize parking removal. Altogether, ten parking spots would be removed for the project.

Read more…

42 Comments

City Sets Out to Create Safer, Greener Streets on the Wiggle

Photo: Aaron Bialick

The Wiggle could be transformed into a greener, more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly route in the coming years thanks to a new planning effort launched by the SFMTA and the SF Public Utilities Commission.

At an open house community meeting yesterday, planners shopped potential treatments like traffic diverters, traffic circles, bulb-outs, and raised crosswalks that could be used to calm motor traffic while adding plants and surfacing treatments to absorb more storm runoff.

“We want to think about how we can make the streets for people,” said Luis Montoya, a planner at the SFMTA’s Livable Streets Subdivision. “We’ve been hearing for several years about several issues going on on the Wiggle, whether it be cut-through traffic, bikes and cars speeding and not yielding to pedestrians, and people wanting to see more green on their streets.”

Bicycle traffic has grown dramatically in recent years on the Wiggle, the flattest central route connecting the eastern and western neighborhoods by zig-zagging through the Lower Haight. During that time, the SFMTA has added green-backed sharrows and more visible crosswalks, and the agency plans to remove parking spaces at corners (a.k.a. daylighting) this summer to improve visibility at intersections.

Connections to the Wiggle have also seen major improvements recently, with the installation of the Fell and Oak protected bike lanes on the west end, and an overhaul of Duboce Avenue on the east end that included a new green bike channel.

The SFMTA is now able to embark on more intensive changes to the Wiggle’s streetscape thanks to a partnership with the PUC, which is looking to replace the sewers and add water-absorbing treatments (similar to the project under construction on western Cesar Chavez Street), planners said.

The PUC is providing $4.2 million in addition to $800,000 from the Prop B street improvement bond. By combining projects and funds, both agencies can save time and money, planners said. The project is currently scheduled to be completed in mid-2016.

Ambitious visions for the Wiggle have been sketched out by city planners and livable streets advocates. In 2011, bicycle planners from the SFMTA joined planners from the Netherlands in a workshop called ThinkBike, where they set out to re-design major SF bicycle routes for walking and biking first. The conceptual plans that came out of the workshop depicted on-street greenways with chicanes and traffic lane closures, as well as green-backed sharrows and bike channels like the ones which were later implemented. Last year the SF Bicycle Coalition created more detailed renderings of a Wiggle greenway based on those visions.

Read more…

8 Comments

Neighbors Welcome a Calmer, Greener Bryant Street Near Cesar Chavez

This post supported by

Residents are enjoying a more livable outer Bryant Street since the city implemented a road diet last month, reducing four traffic lanes to two (plus left-turn bays at some intersections) between 23rd and Cesar Chavez Streets. Neighbors joined Friends of the Urban Forest on Sunday on the block between 26th Street and Cesar Chavez to add trees and plants to two new medians — visual signals that drivers should slow down as they enter the neighborhood from the 101 freeway.

Friends of the Urban Forest joined neighbors Sunday in planting two new medians that were installed along with a road diet on Bryant Street between 26th and Cesar Chavez Streets. Photo: Dan Sherman

The project, part of a bigger slate of traffic calming improvements planned for the neighborhood, has made the intersection of Bryant and Cesar Chavez much safer for pedestrians, said Fran Taylor of CC Puede. ”For me, the most important improvement has been the elimination of the double left-turn that used to feed traffic from southbound Bryant onto eastbound Cesar Chavez and the freeway ramp, making the pedestrian crossing on the east side of Chavez a death-defying experience,” she said. “The median, especially now that it’s landscaped, makes the street feel smaller and cozier.”

In its 2010 Mission Streetscape Plan, the Planning Department noted that Bryant had “far more roadway space than is needed for the amount of traffic that uses the street,” which led to ”fast-moving traffic and neighborhood cut-throughs, and… a landscape that is dominated by asphalt.”

To calm car traffic, planners removed traffic lanes, added medians, and re-arranged some on-street parking spaces to be perpendicular with the curb, narrowing what used to look like a wide-open roadway.

The plan also calls for more midblock sidewalk extensions (also known as chicanes) along Bryant, including a “landscaped plaza” between 25th and 26th, but those improvements are included in the long-term phase. And that’s not set for implementation for ten or more years, due to the limited funds available for such projects.

Read more…

10 Comments

Eyes on the Street: Bike Lane, Raised Crosswalks, and More at McCoppin

Photos: Aaron Bialick

The ongoing streetscape transformation on and around McCoppin Street in recent weeks has brought a new bike lane, raised crosswalks, planted bulb-outs and medians.

Crews installing cobblestone pavement on Stevenson Street today.

The planted bulb-outs and medians being added to McCoppin and nearby alleys (Stevenson, Pearl, Jessie Streets, and Elgin Park) will help absorb rainwater and lighten the load on the city’s stormwater systems. Such treatments, which are called for in the city’s Better Streets Plan, also help narrow the view of the street, signaling drivers to slow down, as do the cobblestone pavement treatments in the alleyways.

The new westbound bike lane on McCoppin (which was included in the SF Bike Plan but coordinated with the Department of Public Works’ project) connects the one-block bike lane on Otis Street to Valencia Street and the McCoppin bikeway, which runs through the future site of the McCoppin Hub plaza toward Market Street and Octavia Boulevard.

Read more…

3 Comments

Tomorrow: Help Envision Better Streets Connecting to Heron’s Head Park

Tomorrow the SF Planning Department is putting on the first in a series of walks as part of its new Green Connections project, an effort to improve access to parks making better use of city streets.

Biking and walking routes to Heron's Head Park. See the full PDF. Image: SF Planning Department

The intent of the program, according to the department’s website, is to create “a citywide network of green streets that can be built over time, improving pedestrian and bicycle access to parks, open space and the waterfront.”

At a kick-off meeting last month, planning department staff began collecting feedback and showing how traffic calming and greening techniques could be included in the plans. On tomorrow’s walk, you can tell planners what you like and don’t like about the pedestrian environment en route to Heron’s Head Park near Hunter’s Point.

Planners will use the walks and other public events to engage communities in shaping the Green Connections project, and by late 2013 they hope to finish conceptual designs in six neighborhoods: Chinatown, the Tenderloin, the Western Addition, Potrero Hill, Visitacion Valley, and Bayview-Hunter’s Point.

Tomorrow’s two-hour walk meets at 1 p.m. the EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park at 32 Jennings Street (coincidentally at the east end of Cargo Way, where crews are currently constructing a two-way protected bikeway).

Check out all the project materials from the kick-off meeting on the Green Connections website, and see highlights after the break.

Read more…

4 Comments

Newcomb Ave. Sustainable Streetscape Project Completed in Bayview

A raised crosswalk and landscaped sidewalk bulb-outs now grace the entrance of this block of Newcomb Avenue. Photo: SFDPW/Flickr

After a six-year-long process, residents of Newcomb Avenue in the Bayview joined city staffers yesterday to mark the completion of the “Model Block” project, a prototype for street design that’s better for the environment and more conducive to neighborhood life.

The block had been characterized by speeding traffic and illegal dumping. With this redesign it should be a safer, more sociable street thanks to the addition of landscaped chicanes, sidewalk bulb-outs, 20 new street trees, raised crosswalks, and other traffic calming improvements. The new landscaped surfaces will absorb rainfall and prevent stormwater from overloading the sewer system.

“To see the finished project, something this great in the Bayview, is unbelievable!” said Newcomb resident Mardina Graham in a press release from the Department of Public Works. “I have lived in the neighborhood all my life and have never seen anything like this before, perhaps in other neighborhoods yes, but not here.”

Residents will organize community cleanup days to keep the street “clean and green,” according to DPW, while the performance of the new stormwater treatment facilities — projected to reduce runoff by half — will be monitored by the city.

Landscaped chicanes along the curbs are designed to slow drivers. Photo: SFDPW/Flickr

See more photos after the break.

Read more…

6 Comments

Newcomb Ave. Sustainable Streetscape Model Breaks Ground in Bayview

Mayor Ed Lee speaks at the groundbreaking. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Construction began on a model for sustainable streets in San Francisco today when Mayor Ed Lee and city officials broke ground on a block of Newcomb Avenue in the Bayview District, promising a much friendlier streetscape for residents and the environment.

“You see a vision right in front of your door,” Mayor Lee told an audience of residents and agency officials who collaborated on the project. “A vision that’s going to bring about slowing the traffic, trees, permeable landscaping – all kinds of things that you see other neighborhoods get.”

The treatments in the Model Block project [pdf], such as greener sidewalks and bulbouts, over twenty trees, raised crosswalks, and chicaned street parking with permeable pavement, aim to treat stormwater as it falls, enhance the public realm, and create a safer street by calming motor traffic.

“This is one block of our many streets of San Francisco that altogether cover 25 percent of our city,” said Department of Works Director Ed Reiskin. “But they were designed more for people to drive through than to be on, and to cover up the environment rather than to work with its natural processes.”

The innovative practice of treating stormwater with streetscape plantings, known as greenstreet treatments, has been commonly used in Portland, Oregon. That city lacks more expensive infrastructure like San Francisco’s rainwater storage facilities and controlled combined sewage system, which are not always able to handle loads of rainwater that fall on the streets.

Read more…

The Nowtopian 16 Comments

The Political and Economic Implications of Bicycling Tourists

A Bike-and-Roll rental station in front of the Hyatt Regency at Market and Spear.

I’ve been bicycling in San Francisco since the late 1970s so I vividly remember when almost all bicyclists could recognize each other on the streets of the city. There really weren’t that many of us even as recently as the beginning of the 1990s, just two decades ago. We’ve come a long way, and one of the less recognized aspects of this bicycling boom has been the incredible expansion of bike rentals and bicycling tourism.

I wrote a flyer back in 1986 calling for a “City of Panhandles” and one of the arguments I made in that largely unnoticed document was that a systematic effort to provide safe, separate bikeways crisscrossing the City would itself lead to a tourism boom. As it turns out, we’re experiencing a dramatic increase in tourists cycling even before we provide adequate infrastructure. San Francisco is just an incredibly beautiful place, and people come from all over the world to experience its beauty. Growing numbers of those visitors aren’t much interested in seeing it through windshields and are opting instead (or in addition) to rent bicycles.

There are three “big” companies doing bike rentals in SF: Bike and Roll, Blazing Saddles, and Bay City Bikes (a number of smaller places, like the BikeHut at Pier 40, also rent bikes). I recently spoke with Darryll White, owner of Bike and Roll, and he gave me some impressive aggregate numbers. Since 1995 the local bicycle rental business has grown from about $500,000 a year to over $10 million! The remarkable thing about this huge increase in tourist cycling is that about 90 percent of the rentals are heading to the Golden Gate Bridge and to Sausalito, where the City Council has erupted into battles over bike parking vs. car parking, even pondering charging fees to touring bicyclists. The Golden Gate Ferry service keeps at least four of its ferry runs going to accommodate the cycling tourists, which have hit peaks of 2,500 per day during recent summer months.

Read more…

12 Comments

Tiffany Street Neighbors Make a Party of Ripping Up Concrete

diggging_1.jpgA new wider tree well get's a new tree from Friends of the Urban Forest. Photos: Matthew Roth.

Starting last week along Tiffany Street near 29th Street, contractors started cutting up sidewalks, jackhammering them and taking the crumbled pieces of concrete away in trucks. By the end of the week, what looked like an ugly construction zone began to get the personal touch of residents hoeing and digging in the dirt underneath the concrete, preparing it for a block party planting day this last Saturday, when the street was closed to cars and neighbors came together to work and throw a street party.

24 property owners on Tiffany Street and 29th Street banded together to transform their long block from a concrete jungle into something a little closer to a real jungle, using a $24,000 Community Challenge Grant and enlisting the support of Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) along the way.

Rita Roti, a resident on Tiffany Street for over 13 years, had had enough with the lack of greenery and started organizing the neighbors she knew around the concept of the concrete planter boxes.

"There's just so much concrete everywhere, I've always wanted to change it," said Roti. She said as a result of the organizing around the planters, her neighbors had met with California Pacific Medical Center on Valencia and Cesar Chavez to discuss the plans for reconstruction there and now they were talking about adding additional traffic calming at the corner of Tiffany Street and 29th Street. This stretch of Tiffany is already a virtual bicycle boulevard because of traffic calming and a bicycle cut-through at the north end, where if meets Valencia.

"It used to be 4,000 cars a day before the traffic calming," said Roti, and many of them were flying down the street at dangerous speeds.

Read more...