Closed Crosswalks Remain Even in Today’s Walkable Hayes Valley

Fell and Gough Streets. Photo: tracktwentynine/Instagram

Hayes Valley may be one of the country’s densest and most walkable urban neighborhoods, but believe it or not, it still has three closed crosswalks — vestiges of the mid-20th century’s cars-first planning.

“For many years, traffic engineers devised ways to pen people in, so that cars weren’t inconvenienced,” said Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Schneider. “Nowadays, the city realizes how foolish that thought was, especially in an urban environment which thrives on connecting people with people — not people with fast moving cars.”

Last week, a visiting transportation writer who was exploring many of SF’s otherwise-progressive recent livable streets efforts was surprised and ashamed to find pedestrians banned from crossing at one side of the intersection at Gough and Fell Streets. Instead, people walking there are forced to take a detour through three crosswalks instead of one, so that turning car traffic can whisk through unimpeded.

The SFMTA had previously approved re-opening that crosswalk, as well as another at Fell and Franklin Streets. That was over a year ago.

SFMTA spokesperson Ben Jose said the Fell and Franklin crosswalk is set to be re-opened next month, but that the Fell and Gough crosswalk is on hold and will be implemented late next year, in conjunction with “sewer, water, paving and signal enhancements” to “maximize efficiency.”

As for the closed crosswalk at Oak and Franklin Streets, which would cross three lanes of turning motor traffic, SFMTA planners looked at re-opening it but “decided to not move forward at this time,” said Jose. Opening the crosswalk, or removing a turn lane, would “result in traffic backing up into Market Street,” he said.

“Re-opening crosswalks is a basic walkers’ rights issue,” said Schneider, who pointed out that the Mayor’s Pedestrian Strategy has a goal of opening two crosswalks per year through 2021, and “notes that this is a quick, cost-effective way to enhance pedestrian safety and walkability.”

Robin Levitt of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, and a member of the Market-Octavia Community Advisory Committee, said he’s disappointed that the Oak and Franklin crosswalk won’t be opened any time soon, and that the Fell and Gough crosswalk won’t be opened for at least another year. Still, “It’s been that way forever,” he said, and another year isn’t a big setback.

Nonetheless, “If this was a bottleneck delaying cars, I think they’d probably get on it.”

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Two-Way Hayes Street Proposal Wins Approval at SFMTA Hearing

|
A plan to restore two-way traffic on several blocks of Hayes and Fell Streets in Hayes Valley that were converted to one-way streets in the 1950s was approved at an SFMTA hearing today following a strong show of support from residents, merchants and neighborhood associations. It now goes to the SFMTA Board for approval. The […]
Josie Ahrens, Neighborhood Organizer for Walk SF, stops to admire some tactical urbanism on Page Street. All photos Roger Rudick/Streetsblog SF

A Hopeful but Somber Walk to Work Day

|
Walk to Work day started badly this morning–very badly. A volunteer–the name withheld for privacy–was hit by a car somewhere on the way to the event, which started at Market and Duboce. “This is insane,” said Cathy Deluca, incoming acting director of Walk San Francisco. “People should be able to walk the streets of San […]

Two-Way Hayes Extension is a Step Closer, Though Obstacles Remain

|
Cars whipping around the corner of Gough and Hayes, where pedestrians can only cross three ways There was widespread government and public support for a two-way, traffic-calmed Hayes Street between Gough and Franklin at the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Development Committee meeting today, but there is a fundamental disagreement with the MTA […]

Planning Department Sets Out to Create “Living Alleys” Around Hayes Valley

|
The Planning Department held a community workshop yesterday to field ideas on how to turn the numerous alleyways in and around Hayes Valley into calmer, greener, more inviting respites from the major traffic-heavy streets. The “Living Alley Project” is an effort conceived in the Market Octavia Area Plan to re-think the neighborhood’s alleys as people-oriented […]