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What Tuesday’s wins on Brannan and 3rd Street mean for people walking

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This Tuesday, two projects were approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors that signal a continued and important shift in how some of our deadliest streets will be fixed.

Walk San Francisco has been watchdogging the planning processes for these projects: Brannan Street and 3rd Street. With the clock ticking on the City’s Vision Zero goal of ending all severe and fatal traffic crashes by 2024, we must ensure every project includes the most aggressive pedestrian safety improvements.

A big win on Brannan

Let’s start with Brannan Street, which is currently a chaotic four-lane road that isn’t working well for anyone. The project will bring higher visibility crosswalks, which is great for people walking. But the big win here is the reduction of the street from four lanes to three.

This is part of redesigning the street to have designated left-turn lanes so vehicle traffic flows more smoothly, but this is huge for people walking and biking. Reducing lanes of traffic is a proven way to significantly reduce vehicle speeds and traffic crashes. It also makes possible bike lanes in both directions.

Not only is this a smart, life-saving move by SFMTA, the Brannan Street project is a “Follow the Paving” project. This means that SFMTA used the opportunity created by the repaving of Brannan Street by SF Public Works to make sure safety improvements are simultaneously installed. This sort of interagency coordination was not a standard practice before Vision Zero was adopted, so we want to recognize the City for institutionalizing this approach, which allows faster and more efficient action to fix our most dangerous streets.

Note: We still want the City to bring mid-block crossings to Brannan in the future. The long blocks with frequent alleyways pose a real danger to people walking and crossing along Brannan.

Bulb-outs and more sidewalk space coming to 3rd Street

If you walk on 3rd Street during rush hour, you already understand why this is such a dangerous street for people walking. Packed with vehicles trying to make right turns going to the Bay Bridge, you can get completely trapped in crosswalks as a pedestrian.

The 3rd Street project is reworking the street design in terms of the transit-only lane and turn lanes that should help a lot with this. What we’re especially excited about in this project are the addition of “transit bulbs” to create space for transit riders to wait, which frees up more much-needed sidewalk space. Intersections are getting bulb-outs as well, which will help pedestrians by reducing the width of the crosswalk and should also slow turning traffic. The project is also adding new crossings along the corridor in places where pedestrians currently have to cross three times (!) to get to a corner across the street due to a lack of crosswalks.

Note: This project will be a huge help to Muni buses, which are currently severely bogged down by vehicle traffic in the transit-only lane and barely crawling along 3rd Street. We are thrilled to see pedestrian safety improvements be so strongly included in what is first and foremost a Muni Forward project.

SoMa streets are key to achieving Vision Zero

Many of the city’s most dangerous streets are in the South of Market neighborhood, making all projects in SoMa key to getting to Vision Zero by 2024. We’ve seen some strong safety improvement projects get approved (and even start to be built), like 2nd Street and 6th Street. Other projects are still in works, and we hope you’ll get involved with our campaign on 5th Street to make sure this street is transformed to be truly safe for all.

Photo credit: SFMTA Photo Archive via SFMTA .com/Photo