At a community meeting about bulb-outs in North Beach tomorrow evening, some residents and firefighters are expected to speak against the curb extensions on the grounds that they make streets more dangerous.
As Hoodline has reported, the leadership of the North Beach Neighbors and the SF Fire Fighters Union have drummed up opposition to bulb-outs proposed at four intersections along Columbus Avenue. NBN will hold its second public discussion on the issue tomorrow.
While the SF Fire Department’s top brass has shown signs of letting go of its opposition to curb extensions, SF Fire Fighters Union Local 798 has maintained a campaign for wider, more dangerous roadways.
Now there’s tension between the union and the fire department about street design. In a June 18 letter to SFFD Chief Johanne Hayes-White [PDF], Local 798 President Tom O’Connor protested the department’s “very troubling” approval of “obstacles” that “will require our members to knowingly drive into oncoming traffic” (yes, some firefighters still make that claim):
We further assert that any and all obstacles that have already installed [sic] should completely [sic] removed on the basis that they are a danger to public safety, to our members and to the integrity of our apparatus and finally as a violation of the California Vehicle Code.
NBN President Trish Herman has fueled the flames. She told Hoodline that “bulb-outs in the Castro have caused traffic back-ups,” presumably referring to Castro Street’s recent sidewalk expansion, which narrowed its excessively wide traffic lanes. She also complained about sidewalk space removing parking: “They’re not considering the vehicle public,” she said.
Bulb-outs improve the visibility of pedestrians, shorten crossing distances, and keep drivers from barreling around turns at high speed and hitting people. They are an increasingly common street safety measure in SF.