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Pedestrian Safety

DPW Looks to Add Some Green to Car-Clogged Central Irving Street

Photos: Aaron Bialick

Most of the space on the busy commercial stretch of central Irving Street in the Sunset serves as a clogged parking lot, with rampant double parking and drivers circling the easternmost block to work around 19th Avenue's left-turn bans. But while the car traffic and angled parking spots that eat up public space may not disappear any time soon, the Department of Public Works held a recent public meeting to field input on how to make the street more livable with new trees, re-paving, a median with greenery, and a few corner bulb-outs.

Irving, between 19th and 27th Avenues, is slated to get the improvements using $3 million from the Prop B street improvement bond.  However, planners said it likely won't be enough for any significant sidewalk expansions.

Sam Kaleh, owner of Lucca Foods at Irving and 20th Avenue, said crossing the street at the corner can be dangerous, and hopes to see crosswalks made more visible. He's considering applying for a parklet in front of his store to provide more space for people than the narrow sidewalk currently provides, though he'd prefer a bulb-out because he's concerned a parklet would invite homeless people to sit in it. (That's a concern that prevails among some merchants and residents, even though it generally hasn't been a real problem at the 38 parklets installed around the city.) "I'd like to see people be safe and happy about shopping on the street," said Kaleh.

Irving at 19th Avenue.
Irving in front of Lucca Foods.

As the flattest east-west street in the northern Sunset, the site of many retail businesses, and a connection to Golden Gate Park, Irving is also popular among bicycle riders who are willing to squeeze through the traffic. Providing safer bicycling conditions could help grow the number of people shopping by bike.

Walter Van Riel, who lives nearby, said the street's "ridiculous traffic congestion" seems to largely be caused by double parking, which is rarely ticketed. "Maybe the parking meters may need to be adjusted to allow for more rotation," he said. "Maybe more parking meters need to be added on side streets."

DPW plans to present proposed improvements for the street at a meeting to be scheduled in the coming months, with a final plan developed by next year. Construction on the project is set to take nearly a year and begin in February 2015.

Streetsblog will be off tomorrow -- happy Fourth of July, everyone.

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