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Sweeping bicycle, pedestrian improvements approved for Howard, Folsom streets

After years of planning, outreach, and high-profile deaths, San Francisco transit officials approved construction of bike and pedestrian safety improvements on Howard and Folsom streets.

Both streets parallel each other in the South of Market neighborhood where the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will install similar bike and pedestrian improvements, such as adding a two-way protected lane on the south side of Howard Street between Fourth and 11th streets and on the south side of Folsom Street between Second and 11th streets.

The SFMTA will install concrete buffers and islands to protect bicyclists from traffic, parked vehicles and at intersections.

Paul Stanis, the SFMTA project manager for the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project, said Howard Street had seen 159 collisions over the last five years with 29 of those collisions involving bicyclists and 46 pedestrians. Folsom Street saw 233 collisions over the last five years.

One of the recent tragedies that occurred on Howard Street in March was the death of Tess Rothstein, who was hit by a truck trying to avoid a driver car door.

The fatality prompted the SFMTA to quickly install protections for bicyclists where Rothstein was hit on Howard between Fifth and Sixth streets.  

The collision data puts both corridors on The City’s high injury network where 75 percent of severe and fatal collisions occur on 13 percent of city streets.

Charles Deffarges, a senior community organizer with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told the SFMTA Board of Directors:

“This Folsom and Howard Streetscape will transform two of the busiest and most dangerous bicycle lane corridors into safe, inviting and livable spaces for all people.”

Defarrages continued:

“This is truly a visionary project.”

In addition to the new two-way protected bikeways, the SFMTA will make pedestrian improvements including six mid-block traffic signals, raising crosswalks over the bikeway so that bicyclists slow down for pedestrians, corner bulbouts, and dedicated phases for pedestrians to cross the street.

The SFMTA will also make transit improvements by installing a transit-only lane to improve the 12-Folsom route on Folsom between 10th and Mabini streets. There will be service changes to the 8-Bayshore and its express routes, and also on the 27-Bryant, so those routes can benefit from the transit-only lane.

Stanis said the transit-only lane will cut down on wait times from 15 minutes to two minutes in the morning peak time and six minutes the evening peak time.

The SFMTA will begin construction work on the nearly $36 million project in 2021 with completion in 2023.

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