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Posts from the "Fisherman’s Wharf" Category

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City Officials Unveil a People-Friendly Street in Fisherman’s Wharf

Photos: Aaron Bialick

Two blocks of Jefferson Street in Fisherman’s Wharf have been revamped to prioritize walking and biking after the project was expedited with support from political leaders.

Car traffic on Jefferson between Hyde and Jones Streets has been tamed, with formerly one-way traffic now running two-way. Sidewalks were expanded with new planters and seating, on-street parking was removed, and the asphalt roadway was replaced with a surface designed for slower speeds. Altogether, the street has been re-designed to send the message that people come first, not cars.

“It’s very refreshing,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “There are places to sit, places to walk, and it’s safer for everybody. It’s going to bring more people down here.”

City officials and community leaders at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today touted the revamp — the first phase of streetscape plans for Jefferson — as an example of how well city agencies can coordinate when politicians put their support behind a project. City leaders largely credited the mayor for expediting the Jefferson improvements to finish in time for the America’s Cup races this summer.

“The mayor’s leadership is the only reason, to some degree, that we’re actually here today, opening up a brand new street,” said David Berbey, president of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District.

Officials also gave much credit to Neil Hrushowy, the Planning Department’s project leader, for his efforts at community outreach and spearheading the often difficult process of creating a design that accommodated demands from various interests. One change that was made to address merchants’ concerns was the addition of curbs, since the original proposal called for a pedestrianized, curbless street where drivers were expected to share space with pedestrians.

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Construction Begins on Pedestrian-Friendly Redesign of Fisherman’s Wharf

Crews began work yesterday on an overhaul of Jefferson Street in Fisherman’s Wharf that will expand pedestrian space, reduce the number of cars, and create a more welcoming public realm for the throngs of tourists that regularly crowd the street. Improvements on the first two blocks of Jefferson, between Jones and Hyde Streets, were fast-tracked for completion in time for America’s Cup, which is set to begin on July 4. Construction was originally scheduled to begin in October, but it was pushed back to January for unspecified reasons.

The project, designed with the help of Danish architect Jan Gehl, is expected to transform Jefferson into the kind of popular pedestrian-oriented streets that are found many in cities across the world, but are few and far between in San Francisco, as the San Francisco Business Times noted back in June:

The remade Fisherman’s Wharf will recall — but not try to copy — other noted areas where strolling and biking are the main way to get around a shopping/eating district, like Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade or Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road.

“It’s not being done to make it like Disneyland,” said Troy Campbell, executive director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District. It was important to shopkeepers and other longtime residents of the area that Fisherman’s Wharf maintain its character, Campbell said.

“On a busy day, it should feel like an outdoor plaza, an urban living space,” said Neil Hrushowy, project manager in the city’s Planning Department.

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SFMTA May Test Two-Way Bikeways on the Embarcadero

SPUR's vision for an "EmBIKEadero." Image: Carrie Nielson

A two-way protected bikeway along the Embarcadero could get a trial in the coming months. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency is considering implementing a temporary two-way bikeway along the waterfront during the next America’s Cup events in October, according to an agency report. The agency is also developing plans for a more permanent bikeway along the Embaracdero near Pier 39, from Kearny to Powell Streets.

During the next America’s Cup yacht races, which are scheduled from October 2 to 7, the SFMTA “is investigating the feasibility of a trial two-way cycle track on the east side of the Embarcadero,” according to an agency report to the Bicycle Advisory Committee [PDF]. “A lane of northbound traffic could potentially be converted to a temporary two way cycle [track]. Staff is working with the Port and local merchants to develop the concept further.” No details on the length of the bikeway are currently available.

A two-way bikeway on the Embarcadero, or an “EmBIKEadero,” was recommended in a report [PDF] from the SF Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) and in the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Connecting the City campaign. “Creation of a separated two-way bike path alongside the Embarcadero would enhance the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike,” SPUR wrote on Streetsblog last year. “Promoting multi-modal connectivity along the Embarcadero will help ensure that the public can access and enjoy its waterfront for the duration of the America’s Cup and beyond.”

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City to Expedite Two Blocks of Fisherman’s Wharf Redesign for Summer 2013

A "stripped down" version of the street plan showing the basic geometry of changes planned on Jefferson Street between Jones and Hyde. See full PDF here. Image: SF Planning Department

As the plan to revamp the public realm on Jefferson Street in Fisherman’s Wharf develops, planners recently announced that two blocks of the project could be brought to life by summer of 2013 in time for America’s Cup.

At a recent public meeting, staff from the San Francisco Planning Department’s City Design Group presented the latest designs for the Fisherman’s Wharf Public Realm Plan. Some changes have been made from concept designs presented as late as last year, including the decision to rescind a proposal for a curb-less “shared street” where cars are allowed, but people are granted priority. Instead, the project will feature curbs as conventional streets do, though it won’t include curbside car parking.

Despite the change, the project is still intended to transform Jefferson into a “beautiful, lively and memorable street that strengthens the identity of Fisherman’s Wharf,” planner Neil Hrushowy told the San Francisco Chronicle:

The work will include adding 15 feet to the sidewalk along the water side of the street, where visitors now must wend their way past crab stands, street vendors, entertainers and outdoor dining tables that take up much of the walkway.

On the other side of Jefferson Street, current plans call for the removal of parking meters, trees and other sidewalk obstacles.

The biggest changes will be to the street itself. The wider sidewalk will mean a narrower roadway, with no street parking and traffic limited to two 11-foot-wide lanes. For the first time in decades, Jefferson will be opened to two-way traffic, dramatically slowing the cars and trucks and making the road safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

“This is a way to show San Francisco as a model for a pedestrian-priority city,” said Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe. “I look forward to more projects like this throughout the city to benefit residents as well as visitors.”

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Which is the Steepest Street in San Francisco? Hint: It’s Not Filbert

Filber_Coit_Tower_small.jpg"Look kids, Coit Tower!" Photo: jinazaki
One of my favorite memories from childhood was the first time my grandparents took my sister and me into San Francisco. We were country bumpkins who grew up on a ranch in northeastern Nevada and were mesmerized by the cacophony and tumult of the big city. My grandfather took us to all the tourist destinations of note, including Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square, but the memory that remains the most vivid in my mind was the drive down Filbert Street.

We left Fisherman's Wharf in his old faux-wood paneled station wagon, driving south on Hyde Street, before turning east on Filbert. After the turn, just before the infamous Filbert grade started, my grandfather said, "Look, kids, Coit Tower!" He then gunned it, sending us careening over the edge of "The Steepest Street in San Francisco," sacrificing the integrity of his car's undercarriage and front-end for the sake of a good scare and the subsequent laugh. 

I certainly never forgot that moment and I've used the same trick on other people who aren't familiar with San Francisco's hills. I took it on faith that Filbert was the steepest street in the city, a fact backed up by none other than Wikipedia (tied with 22nd St. in Noe Valley), which claims it to be "one of the steepest navigable streets in the Western Hemisphere, at a maximum gradient of 31.5 percent."

So it must be true, right? Wrong.

Stephen Von Worley, who runs the blog Weather Sealed, went out and measured a few other steep streets and it turns out there are several significantly slanty-er than that block on Filbert, and most of them are on the hill right behind my house in Bernal Heights.

Take Nevada above Chapman: 36 percent grade. Or his steepest: Prentiss between Chapman and Powhattan, 37 percent grade!

Von Worley writes a very entertaining essay about his quest to right the record books on the steepest streets in San Francisco, highly worth the read. Any dissenters out there have a steeper street?

Photo of Prentiss after the jump.

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First Sunday Streets of 2009: “An Idea With Staying Power”

IMG_3236e2.jpgPeople instead of cars fill the streets in Fisherman's Wharf. Photo by Bryan Goebel.
Today's crisp, sunny weather and car-free waterfront drew thousands of people to San Francisco's first Sunday Streets of 2009 along the Embarcadero from Aquatic Park to the Giants ballpark. Business seemed like it was booming in Fisherman's Wharf, dispelling concerns among some business owners the opposite would happen.

"They're really excited and they feel like there's a ton of people around," said Wade Crowfoot of the Mayor's office, donning an orange Sunday Streets volunteer t-shirt. "What you see is a good mixing of tourists who would be down here anyways and then a lot of locals and tourists that probably rented bikes specifically for this day."

He added: "This is an idea with staying power."

Hear a brief interview with Wade, as he was surveying the fun in Fisherman's Wharf:

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