SFMTA to Study Safety Upgrades for the Richmond’s North-South Bike Routes

The SFMTA plans to study safer walking and biking routes on five of the Richmond District’s north-south streets, which connect the Presidio and Golden Gate Park.

The Richmond’s north-south streets like Arguello Boulevard could be better for bicycling and walking. Photo: Hum of the City

At the behest of D1 Supervisor Eric Mar, the SF County Transportation Authority recently granted $100,000 in Prop K sales tax revenue for the SFMTA to launch the study. Over the next year, planners will conduct walking and biking tours, as well as community meetings, to survey conditions on Eighth, 15th, 23rd, and 34th Avenues, and Arguello Boulevard.

Those routes “should be made safer,” Mar said at a recent SFCTA Board meeting. “It will provide access not just to the park, but also the different corners of our neighborhood.”

While these streets are already relatively calm, planners could identify ways to make them more inviting and easier for everyone to bike on, including families with children. One difficult spot to traverse on bike is the link from 23rd, a designated bike route, into Golden Gate Park, which requires people on bikes to travel a block on high-speed Fulton Street and navigate onto a narrow sidewalk ramp toward a park path.

The greatest danger on these routes seems to lie at the major cross-streets — Fulton and Geary Boulevard — which are notorious for dangerous driving. Today, a man was hit by a driver in a crosswalk at Geary and 26th Avenue.

A Google Maps view of the Richmond’s bike routes.

On February 23, a mother and her toddler were hit while bicycling by a driver who reportedly ran a red light at Geary and Seventh Avenue, a spot that isn’t on the list for study. Last April, three-year-old Nikita May was seriously injured on his bike in a crosswalk at Fulton and 43rd Avenue by a driver making a left turn. A month earlier, a 5-year-old boy and his babysitter were hospitalized after being struck by a driver at Fulton and 37th Avenue.

Fulton isn’t set for traffic lane reductions or other measures that could seriously reduce speeding and injures, but its speed limit was recently lowered to 30 miles per hour, and received some transit bulb-outs west of 25th Avenue. The SFPD’s Richmond Station is the only one targeting traffic enforcement to the top five causes of traffic injuries. Geary’s six general traffic lanes are set to be trimmed to four, with sidewalk bulb-outs added, as part of the Geary Bus Rapid Transit project in 2017.

Once the study is completed, an SFCTA document [PDF] says “the SFMTA will advance the top two corridors or sets of locations to detailed design,” with the other improvements to be implemented later.

The Richmond’s streets have seen safety and traffic-calming improvements in recent years, including a traffic circle at 23rd and Anza Street in 2013, most of which were part of the SFMTA’s Central Richmond Traffic Calming Project. The Arguello bike lanes and road diet were also implemented over a decade ago. With the street set to be re-paved next year, the SF Bicycle Coalition has launched a campaign for it to receive an even better redesign.

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