Supe Kim, Mayor Lee Activate New Sixth Street Crossing Signal

A new pedestrian crossing signal was installed at Sixth and Minna Streets, seen here before it was activated. Photo: Google Maps

Mayor Ed Lee and D6 Supervisor Jane Kim held a press conference yesterday to activate a new pedestrian signal across deadly Sixth Street at Minna Street, a narrow cross street. Although a marked crosswalk had already existed there, drivers routinely failed to yield to people within it.

The button-activated signal is part of a package of pedestrian safety measures planned for Sixth Street, which decades ago had been designed to speed drivers between the Tenderloin and the 280 highway through the dense SoMa neighborhood, which resulted in an alarming rate of traffic violence. In the past seven years, Sixth has seen more than 50 pedestrian injuries and two fatalities just between Market and Howard streets, according to a Mayor’s Office press release.

“Our families and seniors on Sixth Street know that mid-block crossings, turn restrictions and sidewalk bulbouts can actually save lives,” Kim said in a statement.

“These tragic statistics are simply unacceptable, and we are working towards our new Vision Zero goal: zero traffic fatalities in the next 10 years,” said a statement from Mayor Lee. “Building safer, better streets is a critical part in saving lives.”

Long-term plans for Sixth include a road diet that would remove two of its four traffic lanes and replace them with wider sidewalks and conventional bike lanes. That’s expected to calm car traffic dramatically, but there’s no construction timeline yet.

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin speaks with Mayor Lee, Supervisor Kim, and SFCTA Director Tilly Chang. Photo: Office of Supervisor Kim

In the meantime, the SFMTA has added some other minor improvements. A year ago, the city’s first painted sidewalk bulb-outs were added along Sixth, at Market, Mission, and Harrison Streets. The six sidewalk extensions were installed using temporary materials, initially including planters, which were removed after being soiled or vandalized.

The SFMTA recently expanded the bulb-outs to “wrap around key corners onto side streets and further increased visibility of the measures, by installing new plastic posts and durable ‘StreetBond’ paint,” according to the press release.

Other livability measures on Sixth in recent years have included street trees, concrete bulb-outs, and more visible “continental” crosswalks. The SFMTA also lifted a rush-hour ban on curbside car parking in the eastmost lane of Sixth between Folsom and Market Streets, since parked cars provide a physical barrier between pedestrians and fast-moving vehicle traffic.

”Mother” Elaine Jones, a senior tenant organizer, speaks next to one of the SFMTA’s new Safe Streets SF campaign ads. Photo: Office of Supervisor Kim

The new traffic signal cost about $300,000 and was funded by Proposition K local sales tax revenue, according to the Mayor’s Office.

“We know just six percent of our city streets account for 60 percent of severe and fatal pedestrian injuries,” SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said in a statement. “And we are implementing proven safety measures.”

Neighborhood street safety advocates have fought for improvements for years. As Kim noted, “This is just the beginning of the long-term safety improvements the city is committed to implementing along Sixth Street, which has the number one and three highest collision intersections in San Francisco.”

“This is more than a Vision Zero commitment. It is a testament to the power of neighborhood advocacy,” she said.

Photo: Office of Supervisor Kim
  • shotwellian

    It seems likely that 6th St will see big safety improvements if 280 north of 16th St comes down as is being studied — motor traffic would then be dispersed more widely through SoMa instead of being funneled directly onto 6th from the freeway.

  • p_chazz

    More south of Market streets need midblock signal lights on the block between Mission and Market. Beale, Fremont, First on up. Much highrise development and many highrises mean more pedestrians on the street who need midblock crossings.

  • BBnet3000

    Could these be in the form of fast-activating yield to ped lights between bulbouts rather than regular traffic lights?

  • Eliza

    Good. Best news I have heard in a long time. I am in favor of regular traffic lights at more mid block crossings. They could do so at all the Minna cross streets. The Mission around 16th could benefit from this also. However, they need to take care to coordinate the light timing. In many cases, 30 second lights for cars is too long for very short blocks, especially when there are more pedestrians than cars waiting in some parts of the city.

  • p_chazz

    That would probably work.

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A deadly stretch of Sixth Street received the city’s first painted sidewalk extensions last week, created using low-cost, temporary materials to help make pedestrians more visible. The SFMTA implemented the pilot project between Market and Harrison Streets — four blocks dense with residential hotels and shops — to help curb injuries while the agency develops plans […]