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Most traffic on another four San Francisco street corridors will be blocked this spring to give residents access to more space for exercise and recreation.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors Tuesday approved four of nine proposed corridors for the fourth phase of its Slow Streets program, which includes stretches in the Inner Sunset, South of Market, Western Addition and Sunnyside neighborhoods.

Proposals for the Bayview and Visitacion Valley were tabled at the request of community members who want more direct outreach from agency staff, said SFMTA Sustainable Streets Director Tom Maguire. That process is expected to take approximately four weeks.

The outreach issue for those areas nearly led to a several-week delay in the entire Phase 4 portion of the program, which frustrated some people who called in during public comment period, especially individuals in support of the proposed SoMa corridors.

Silayan Kintanar, who works for the South of Market Community Action Network, stressed the importance of having open space on Lapu Lapu, Rizal, Tandang Sora, Bonifacio and Mabini streets to ease the toll the past year has taken on crowded households.

Kintanar said:

“Those who live in the SROs (single occupancy units), those who are doubled up families, they lack open spaces in the neighborhood. They also aren’t feeling safe enough to leave their homes because of the crowded sidewalks.”

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Community Organizer Claire Amable said:

“We encourage you to work with urgency and roll out this program … our community needed (last year).”

After a motion to not delay was introduced by Board Director Amanda Eaken, directors ultimately moved forward with remaining corridors that do not require additional outreach. The board approved the following corridors:

  • 12th Avenue between Lincoln Way and Noriega Street
  • Hearst Avenue between Ridgewood Avenue and Baden Street
  • Lapu Lapu, Rizal, Tandang Sora, Bonifacio and Mabini streets from Folsom to Harrison streets
  • Lyon Street from Turk to Haight streets

Planning for the fourth phase focused on ensuring the program benefits underserved neighborhoods, transit officials said.

The Slow Streets program, which limits vehicular traffic in designated areas, launched in April of last year as a way to temporarily provide more social distancing space for pedestrians and bicyclists. The program was also intended to help those impacted by Muni service cuts during the pandemic. Since April 2020, 26 corridors have already been incorporated into the program.

Unless the SFMTA board takes action ahead of time, the Slow Streets program is set to expire 120 days after the Covid-19 emergency local health order is lifted.

Temporary barriers and signage are now used to prevent traffic from entering designated streets. Shannon Hake, the SFMTA’s Slow Streets program manager, said the agency is moving towards replacing those barriers with flexible delineators and new signage.

Director Steve Heminger questioned whether some of the flexible delineators might be too “slender” and suggested they may need to be “buffed up” in order to detract motorists.

Maguire said the latest design to prevent vehicles from Slow Streets corridors is the “4.0” version, adding that the agency continues to look at best practices in other cities.

He said:

“We will eventually at some point come to a really good standard for what is a slow street design that is both properly branded and also visible to drivers, but we want to learn from best practices around the country.”

In discussion about potential of making the program permanent on some corridors, Hake said that process would include surveying nearby residents.

Hake said that outreach process has already begun for corridors on Page, Sanchez and Shotwell streets. The SFMTA board is expected to receive a proposed network of permanent Slow Streets in July.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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