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San Francisco slashes speed limits to 20 mph in seven corridors

Starting this week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will begin installing new lowered speed limit signage across seven corridors in San Francisco as part of state legislation that took effect Jan. 1, which allows cities more control over setting the speed limit.

Assembly Bill 43, authored by Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), allows local jurisdictions control over the speed limit in business districts, or corridors where at least half of the street is for dining and retail use. The SFMTA is lowering the speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph on seven corridors, including:

  • 24th Street from Diamond to Chattanooga streets and from Valencia Street to San Bruno Avenue
  • Fillmore Street from Chestnut to Union streets and from Jackson to McAllister streets
  • Haight Street from Stanyan Street to Central Avenue and from Webster to Steiner streets
  • Polk Street from Filbert to Sutter streets
  • Ocean Avenue from Geneva Avenue to Victoria Street and from Junipero Serra Boulevard to 19th Avenue
  • San Bruno Avenue from Silver to Paul avenues
  • Valencia Street from Cesar Chavez to Market Street

The SFMTA Board of Directors approved lowering the speed limit on the seven corridors last month. Drivers will begin to see crews installing 20 mph signage, with implementation over the next two to three months, the Mayor’s Office said.

SFMTA Director of Director Jeffrey Tumlin said in a statement that speed is the leading cause of serious and fatal traffic crashes in The City, adding:

Under AB 43, we’ll be able to set speeds that create safer conditions for all along these key corridors.”

The Mayor’s Office said the agency will begin outreach with residents and businesses to inform them about the new speed limit changes on the seven corridors.

Mayor London Breed said in a statement that lowering the speed limit is essential to meeting The City’s Vision Zero goal of zero traffic-related fatalities by 2024. Last year, data from The City showed 27 people who died last year in traffic crashes. Of those, 13 were pedestrians.

City Attorney David Chiu, who co-authored the bill as an assemblymember, said in a statement:

“I have heard from too many families who have lost a loved one as a result of a speed-related traffic crash.”

Chiu joined families and advocates for safer streets in a memorial in November to remember lives lost in traffic crashes. He also pledged at the memorial that his efforts to allow The City to use automated cameras for speed enforcement, which requires a change in a state law, will continue in the state legislature, but did not mention who might take on sponsorship of his effort.

The SFMTA is also committed as part of The City’s 2021 Vision Zero Action Strategy to develop a speed management plan that uses AB 43 along with traffic signal retiming, traffic calming measures, and road diets.

Walk San Francisco Executive Director Jodie Medeiros said in a statement that the organization is eager to see more reduced speed limits:

These first streets getting lower speed limits is an important start toward a more aggressive, comprehensive approach on speed by the city.”

A second provision of AB 43 will not take effect until June 2024, which allows cities to lower the speed limit by 5 mph on streets designated as “safety corridors.” The provision requires the state’s Department of Transportation to define safety corridor criteria.

In the meantime, the SFMTA plans to propose additional business corridors in the future for speed reduction this spring and will need approval from the agency’s Board of Directors.

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