Walk SF Campaigns for San Francisco’s First Raised Intersection

A diagram of a raised intersection. Courtesy of NACTO.
A diagram of a raised intersection. Courtesy of NACTO.

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Walk San Francisco is asking people to sign a petition to urge the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to install a raised intersection at Page Street and Buchanan, as part of the agency’s Page Street Neighborway project.

From Walk SF’s release:

The Page Street Neighborway is heading to the SFMTA Board Meeting this summer on July 17. However, we’re concerned: it’s not clear that the city’s first raised intersection is going to remain in the project. Help us keep the city strong in its commitment to putting pedestrians first!

The younger sibling of the raised intersection–the raised crosswalk–has been popping up on San Francisco’s wiggle bike route. The first one, installed near Duboce Park at Steiner and Hermann, in September of 2016, isn’t raised to sidewalk level and doesn’t seem to work very well at slowing cars. However, SFMTA has since installed three sidewalk-level raised crosswalks along the Wiggle, including the one pictured below, at Waller and Steiner. There’s also a sidewalk-level raised crossing in the Stonestown Galleria parking lot and a handful of others on some side streets around town.

The raised crosswalk at Waller and Steiner
The raised crosswalk at Waller and Steiner

Anyone can watch the traffic at these crosswalks and see how well they work at forcing cyclist and motorists to slow or at least hesitate before entering the pedestrian space. The elevation and color of the crosswalks make it seem as if the sidewalk is extending across the street.

The rise of the crosswalk slows cyclists down a bit as they ramp up to sidewalk/crosswalk level, but riders get their hard-earned momentum back as they go down the other side. The only downside to a raised crosswalk is they’re costlier to install. “The cost for a curb-to-curb raised crosswalk is approximately $110,000 and requires extensive design,” explained SFMTA’s Ben Jose, in an earlier post. That’s mainly because of drainage issues.

A raised intersection takes the whole concept of a raised crosswalk a step further, as portrayed in the lead image, by forcing motorist to slow in both directions across the intersection. “A raised intersection is a design tool that transforms the whole intersection into a place that puts pedestrians first. It increases the visibility of people on foot, and gets cars and bikes to slow down through the whole intersection,” wrote Josie Ahrens in Walk SF’s statement. At Page and Buchanan “This will be especially important for families with children at John Muir Elementary School and neighbors who use Koshland Park.”

That fits in perfectly with the city’s plans to calm Page and make it a pedestrian and bicycle friendly “neighborway.” So be sure to sign Walk SF’s petition to keep the city from compromising on this important safety project.

Page and Buchanan, currently. Image: Google Maps
Page and Buchanan, current conditions. Image: Google Maps
  • Mike

    The Stonestown crosswalk was not the first built in San Francisco. The one on Hickory at Franklin was in before July 2009 as shown in this streetview: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.7757207,-122.4211191,3a,75y,75.24h,76.29t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1skb5q1VV2hpd5ivN1rmLJ4A!2e0!5s20090701T000000!7i13312!8i6656

    A bunch were put in around Chinatown awhile ago too. This one was in before May 2008: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.794196,-122.4068385,3a,75y,338.22h,67.05t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sJQspwu3zAFLaIav5HhsCew!2e0!7i3328!8i1664

  • Easy

    How about if they just used the bollards in the illustration to close the intersection to cars? Buchanan only goes 4 blocks in each direction, and cars on Page should really be using Fell/Oak for through movements, not a bicycle route without bike lanes.

  • Roger R.

    Thanks for pointing that out Mike. Those aren’t flush with the sidewalk, but now that you bring it up there are a couple of others on sidestreets here and there, which I cited in the previous post on this topic. Anyway, I modified the language to be more accurate.

  • Best idea, cheapest too.

  • eugene

    a raised intersection would make the intersection dangerous for downhill bicyclists who would need to recognize and adjust for an abrupt grade shift at the intersection and challenging for uphill cyclists who after dealing with a steep hill now need to deal with a raised intersection.

  • joechoj

    > gets cars and bikes to slow down through the whole intersection

    But clearly not as much as raised sidewalks alone: with raised sidewalks only, a straight-traveling car has to go up-down, through intersection, then up-down again. A raised intersection only poses a single up, then intersection, then a single down – which seems easier to speed through. I also don’t love that cars are at sidewalk level in the intersection, eliminating the visibility advantage of raised crosswalks & necessitating bollards for sidewalk protection. (Though to be honest, the bollards themselves are better protection than a curb alone.)

    Ideally, crosswalks & bike crossings get elevated, while the intersections themselves don’t.

    Now, if the idea is to make the intersections explicitly pedestrian-oriented (as implied by the coloring of the top diagram), with textured intersection surface that makes it slightly unpleasant to drive on, with narrowed crossings & where pedestrians cross in all directions – then I see the logic of a sidewalk-level intersection. But these should be restricted to the most pedestrian-heavy zones like shopping districts, IMO.

  • Riley Casey

    This cyclist would happily take that in trade for knowing that any car or truck crossing the raised crosswalk at faster than say 20 mph would suffer significant and expensive suspension damage. I’d imagine that word would travel fast after a few cars were towed away.

  • Brian J

    This is all wasted conversation until you talk to Kevin Jensen. He will never allow it. And he has more power than the Mayor of San Francisco. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/828b10ddc2ea3caec257893d4564fbca926459ce7ba5ece137080b98c0343d42.jpg


The intersection where James Samiere was killed last week. Image: Google Street View

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