Protected Bike Lanes, Ped Safety Top Priorities for Second Street Neighbors

Photo: Google Maps

Safe bike lanes and pedestrian crossings should be top priorities in the redesign of Second Street. That was the major sentiment at a community meeting on Wednesday, where city staffers rebooting the faltered Second Street Improvement Project asked attendees how they would re-envision the corridor.

The residents who attended worked in small groups. Of the 12 group presentations that came out of the workshop, most called for some form of physically separated bike lanes — be they parking-protected, bi-directional, or striped curbside. There appeared to be little appetite for conventional bike lanes placed in the door-zone as originally called for in the SF Bike Plan. Most of the visions also included reduced traffic lanes, amenities like parklets and bike corrals, and transit-only lanes (or at least lanes wide enough to fit buses). One group called for banning private autos altogether on Second between Market and Harrison Streets.

Although it’s unclear how strongly the community proposals would be reflected in the final plan, the emphasis on safe bike lanes from attendees young and old was a promising sign, given that neighborhood resistance to the removal of car parking or traffic lanes was one of the major factors behind the project’s stall-out over the last few years.

The meeting drew a packed crowd of roughly 100 people, including SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, SF Department of Works (DPW) Director Mohammed Nuru, and D6 Supervisor Jane Kim, who noted the “amazing turnout” from community members.

“Second Street is one of our priority corridors in our office for pedestrian safety and other transit improvements,” said Kim. “We have a lot of pedestrians that go up and down it, from the Financial District all the way to the ball park, and the work that we could do over the next couple of years for the street will be incredibly important both for our neighborhood and for our city.”

The SF Bike Plan, approved in 2009, had called for conventional bike lanes on Second, but approval was postponed to allow SFMTA and DPW staff to revise the plan. However, after a series of bureaucratic tangles and miscommunications between the agencies, dedicated funds for the project expired in February. Agency staff are now looking to re-fund it through sources like the Prop B street improvements bond, Proposition AA (a local vehicle license fee), and the federal One Bay Area Grant.

A pedestrian was injured at Second and Bryant in March. Photo: ##http://sfist.com/2012/03/19/pedestrian_struck_by_vehicle_in_hit.php##Brock Keeling, SFist##

Cristina Olea, project manager for the DPW, said the project cost could range between $6 million and $10 million, largely depending on how much concrete work is needed for improvements like curb extensions. Although staff said major sidewalk widenings aren’t on the table due to their relatively high cost, corner bulb-outs could be included to help improve dangerous pedestrian crossings. In particular, many attendees pointed to the intersections at Harrison and Bryant Streets near Highway 80, which both have double turning lanes.

In March, a 35-year-old man was injured in a crosswalk at Second and Bryant by a driver who fled the scene — one of hundreds of citywide pedestrian injuries every year that cost San Francisco about $76 million annually. A woman was also killed at Second and Townsend Streets a year before that. In the last five years, there were 31 pedestrian crashes, 11 bicycle crashes, and 64 vehicle crashes on Second Street, according to a DPW presentation [PDF]. Over a quarter of those took place at the Harrison and Bryant intersections (17 and 12, respectively).

Attendees seemed to voice mixed feelings on removing car parking and banning left turns, both of which could free up room to accommodate bike lanes and speed the 10-Townsend and 12-Folsom Muni lines (the 12 is planned to be replaced by the new 11 Downtown Connector route under the Muni Transit Effectiveness Project [PDF]). A couple of groups recommended including a center turning lane like the one on Valencia Street.

Staff plans to hold two more community meetings in August and October and aim to have the plan approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors in a year. Construction on the project would take a year and could start by 2014.

Be sure to check out the neighborhood advocate blog Great Second Street.

Second and Harrison Streets. Photo: Aaron Bialick

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