Weekend Roundup: Scott Wiener Guns for Central Freeway, Fremont Shows Vision Zero can Work
...and Emeryville gets its bus benches
Here are a few Streetsblog news nuggets to start your weekend.
“It’s time to remove the remaining Central Freeway, south of Market Street.” –Senator Scott Wiener
Readers have probably already seen this bit of great news in Streetsblog’s headlines, but Scott Wiener has officially asked Caltrans to study removing the rest of the Central Freeway. From his letter this week to Dina El-Tawansy, Caltrans Director for the Bay Area:
Freeways have long separated low income communities of color in San Francisco. The continued existence of the remainder of the Central Freeway and Bayshore Viaducts straddling the Mission District, and the Interstate 280 spur cutting off the Bayview from much of the city, illustrates the vestiges of these discrepancies. Recent events, including the passage of the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with funding for the reconnecting communities program, have sparked conversations regarding the potential to remove, repurpose, or reduce the hyperlocal historical and ongoing impacts that high-capacity, high-speed vehicle facilities have had on our communities. In San Francisco, conversations have begun regarding the Central Freeway viaduct in particular.
“This idea is picking up speed fast!” wrote advocate Greg Riessen, formerly of San Francisco planning and SFMTA and a Streetsblog contributor, in an email to Streetsblog. Riessen and other advocates have been working with Wiener on this request. “It’s been too long since SF removed a freeway! This one will go down quickly.”
For more background, check out Streetsblog’s coverage of a recent SPUR talk on the issue.
Fremont shows Vision Zero works–if cities actually build real Dutch infrastructure
“More people are dying in traffic crashes in nearly every city in the U.S.,” wrote NACTO about the city of Fremont, which has built sidewalk-level protected bike lanes and intersections in recent years. “This isn’t inevitable. Know how we know? Take a look at (NACTO member city) Fremont. [They’ve had] 45 percent fewer major crashes in just five years.”
Western City magazine did a great write-up of Fremont’s success. From “Traffic fatalities across the US rose in 2020 but not in Fremont. What did the city do differently?”
Fremont has an average fatality rate of 2.1 traffic deaths per 100,000 residents annually — significantly fewer than California and the U.S., where rates have risen to 9.1 and 11, respectively. Moreover, major crashes have decreased in Fremont by 45 percent since the program was adopted, something Public Works Director Hans Larsen is “extremely pleased with.”
Historically, Fremont’s streets looked like any other streets in the U.S. Notably, they were built with 12 to 14-foot travel lanes, a standard that promotes high speeds and is more appropriate for traveling down freeways. Similarly, 40 of its crosswalks were uncontrolled and located in multi-lane, high-speed roadways. Fremont also had to contend with a state highway system that cut through the city and an outdated street lighting system.
It’s a great read–and really shows that cities in the Bay Area simply have no excuse for not doing more to save lives. For more background on Fremont’s safety work, check out Streetsblog’s past coverage.
Emeryville provides seating at its 50 bus stops
Back in March, Emeryville Mayor John Bauters was dismayed to see a disabled senior leaning on a garbage can while waiting for his bus. He vowed to do something about it and promised to have at least some kind of seating installed at all of the city’s bus stops by the year’s end.
And apparently Emeryville Public Works has made good on that promise.
We said we would quick build and install seats at every bus stop in our city before the end of the year. And then we did it. I am grateful to the @EmeryvilleCA Public Works Department and staff. I am so proud to serve this community. https://t.co/wxlnnWoAdd pic.twitter.com/o3Yenex8VU
— Mayor John J. Bauters (@JohnBauters) November 30, 2022
Well done mayor! Shows what can be done with determined leadership for whom words such as “equity” are more than just a tag line.