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SF to widen sidewalks, remove traffic lanes on Sixth, Taylor

San Francisco transit officials approved two pedestrian safety projects for corridors listed on The City’s high injury corridor.

Directors of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency voted 6-1 to approve the Sixth Street Pedestrian Safety Project and the Safer Taylor Street project. Both projects will remove a lane of traffic in favor of widening the sidewalks for pedestrians.

The project on Sixth Street will remove a southbound lane of traffic from Market to Howard streets and make upgrades to traffic signals and new lighting on the sidewalks.

Transit planners said a person is hit by a vehicle every 16 days along Sixth Street and that half of all the collisions are between Market and Howard streets involving a pedestrian.

Mayor London Breed is in support of both of the projects as she directed the SFMTA expedite the projects last week. Breed said in a statement:

“I have been personally reviewing Vision Zero projects to determine which ones can be implemented more quickly, and I will continue to do so because we cannot wait any longer for these critical safety improvements.”

Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents District 6, where both projects are taking place, is also in support of both of the projects.

Businesses, however, were opposed to the lane reductions for both projects.

Kevin Carroll, executive director with the Hotel Council of San Francisco, said Sixth Street was an important artery that connects southbound drivers onto the Interstate 280 freeway ramp:

“That artery to 280 is important to our employees, to our visitors, to conventions that are coming in and out of the city and to our suppliers.”

Representatives from the Union Square Business District and San Francisco Travel were also opposed to the reduction of traffic lanes.

On Taylor Street, the project will include a lane reduction from three travel lanes to one through lane plus one turn pocket north of Ellis Street and two through lanes plus one turn pocket north of Ellis Street.

Charles Deffarges, a community organizer with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, in favor of both projects, said it felt like there was traffic news of a pedestrian or bicyclist hit every week, especially during the summer:

“How many lives will we have to trade for the city to take action?”

Director Art Torres, who voted against the projects, questioned whether the Sixth Street project would include adding bikeshare docks when the street is widen and if widening the sidewalks would encourage homeless encampments.

Tom Maguire, director of Sustainable Streets at the SFMTA, said there were no plans to add any bikeshare docks and that the street currently as it is barely has enough space for a person in a wheelchair.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said it was not necessarily a bad thing for residents living on Sixth Street, mostly living in SROs:

“They don’t have a living room. They don’t have a couch. They don’t have chairs to sit in. The street is a more important public space arguably for some of these folks than other streets, which I think lends some support in widening of the sidewalks.”

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