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Major Changes Coming to SoMa

 In Engineering, Events, Public Policy, Vision Zero

Big changes are afoot in SoMa. And they’re desperately needed.

More dangerous crashes happen in SoMa (South of Market) than in any other neighborhood except the Tenderloin. Every major street in SoMa is part of the High-Injury Network, the 13% of streets in the city where 75% of all severe and fatal crashes happen.

Near-total transformation

Almost every one of those streets could change dramatically, and soon. The planning is starting now. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is embarking on redesign and improvement projects on almost every major street in SoMa: 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, Howard, Folsom, Brannan, Bryant, and Townsend Streets!

The goal is to make them safe and inviting places to walk, bike, and take transit. Walk San Francisco and our partners (like SOMCAN and Independent Living Resource Center) are working together to make sure the voices and visions of people who use these streets are incorporated into the final designs.

First up: 8th Street

The first opportunity to support these changes will be on March 6, around the 8th Street Project:

SFMTA Board Meeting
Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 1:00pm
City Hall (1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA, 94102)
Room 400, Floor 4

Folsom-Howard sign-large-croppedIf approved, the 8th Street Project will extend the near-term improvements of parking-protected bike lanes and improved crossing at wide streets and freeway ramps from Harrison to Townsend Streets. Walk SF will also be supporting more robust designs along the bike lanes to make sure bicyclists are able to see and slow down for people crossing to the sidewalk, especially those with accessibility needs.

This meeting will be a good opportunity to congratulate the SFMTA on undertaking this much-needed redesign of almost every dangerous street in SoMa, as well as asking for specific improvements on 8th Street. Can’t attend? You can send an email to SFMTA and Supervisor Jane Kim. Contact Senior Community Organizer Josie Ahrens to find out more.

The fixes that are needed

One of the major projects we’ve been focusing on is the redesign of Folsom and Howard Streets, wide one-way streets that now act almost like highways for fast-moving traffic. Walk SF has been advocating for many specific improvements that will help calm traffic and make it easier and safer to walk on these streets. These include: wider sidewalks, signalized mid-block crossings, fewer and narrower lanes, and safer intersections with pedestrian head starts and corner bulbouts, especially near Bessie Carmichael Elementary School.

Folsom Street is also a designated “Green Connection,” so we want to see benches, people-scaled lighting, and trees and gardens on the street to make walking more pleasant, and add public art and plazas to create a sense of neighborhood and promote community.

These streets could start the transformation of one of the city’s most dangerous and unpleasant places to walk — long ago designed as a kind of drive-thru neighborhood — to finally reclaim streets for everyone who lives, works, and walks in SoMa.

Please stay tuned — your voice will be needed to bring this powerful change.