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Let’s win a Fulton Street that prioritizes safety over speed

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Fulton Street: too dangerous for too long

Fulton Street, which runs along the northern edge of Golden Gate Park, has long been far too dangerous for people walking. Traffic crashes are frequent: data from SFMTA shows that on the stretch from Stanyan to La Playa, someone is injured in a traffic crash almost weekly on average. 

But we have a chance to win big safety fixes on Fulton. Thanks to Supervisor Sandra Fewer, the Fulton Street Safety and Transit Project kicked off last year with a survey that over 1,000 neighbors and community members – including many Walk SF members – completed. Many responses echoed our view that this street, with senior centers, bus lines, and countless people going to and from the park, must prioritize safety over speed. 

A closer look at the challenges for pedestrians on Fulton Street

Last Sunday, we did a special edition of our “monthly member walk” and headed to the western half of Fulton Street with Walk SF members and Richmond neighborhood residents. 

We conducted a walk audit to look at traffic patterns, street uses, and how people move on and along it. Together, we wanted to see what works – and doesn’t – for people walking. Here’s what we learned at two intersections that are two different types of park entrances.

26th and Fulton: No traffic light and major visibility challenges

At 26th Avenue and Fulton, the site of two severe pedestrian crashes in recent years, people crossing on foot must step out and hope that drivers will yield as they walk across four travel lanes and two parking lanes. There’s no traffic light. Terrifying.

Visibility is limited by parked cars, including one parking space along the parkside that is actually in the middle of the intersection. Those familiar with the intersection noted the increased danger when trying to cross at night or at sunset when westbound drivers face the sun in their direction.

When we brought out the speed guns, we quickly saw that eastbound drivers regularly drive 40 MPH at this intersection – over the 30 MPH speed limit and a speed at which a pedestrian is unlikely to survive if hit in a crash. 

But along with dangerous conditions, people saw a lot of opportunities to make things better for pedestrians. Participants suggested tools like bulb-outs or painted safety zones to shorten the crossing distance and improve visibility at crossings like this. 

30th and Fulton: Despite a traffic light, shortcomings for safety

A few blocks down, the 30th and Fulton intersection has a four-way traffic signal, but everyone found it lacking. Crossing 30th, there is no pedestrian countdown signal to tell walkers how much time they have to cross.

Also, when crossing Fulton, the countdown signal isn’t automatic – it’s only activated if the walker presses a button in before it’s their turn to cross. We know signals like these don’t work because they leave people guessing when to cross with dangerous results if they guess wrong. The traffic signal at Fulton is an example of a citywide problem: aging and outdated traffic signals lack important safety features included that new signals have. This includes accessibility features for low-vision and blind people, plus a design that makes signals much more visible for drivers. 

Visibility at the corners is also an issue here. Daylighting – removing parking spaces directly around a crosswalk – is seriously needed. This is a proven method to reduce crashes at intersections, and should be brought to the entire length of Fulton given crash data.

When we took out speed guns here, once again drivers were regularly going over 40 MPH despite a 30 MPH speed limit and so many joggers, families, and seniors heading into the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon. 

What’s next: the February 29 SFMTA Open House

Everyone who was part of our walk audit agreed that there’s no shortage of ways Fulton can and must be made safer for pedestrians. Now’s the time to win real changes.

SFTMA will share  proposed designs for Fulton at an open house on Saturday, February 29. This is a great chance to share your support for a Fulton that puts people first and the strongest possible safety improvements. 

SFMTA staff need to hear from community members who believe we must prioritize safety over speed, and want proven solutions like daylighting to happen at every intersection. 

Can you join us or are you interested in staying up-to-date on how you can help this project? Let us know!

Fulton Street Safety and Transit Project Open House

February 29th, 2020  10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Argonne Elementary School / 680 18th Avenue / Multipurpose Room

Much gratitude to the Richmond Neighborhood Center for hosting us in their beautiful space. Thank you for Jay Bain for taking photos.