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Safety fixes finally coming to a deadly street: Lake Merced Boulevard

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On February 4th, 2021, a beloved husband and father, Sheria Musyoka, went for his morning run on Lake Merced Boulevard.

But that morning, Sheria didn’t make it back home. Sheria was hit and killed by a reckless, speeding driver in a horrific crash.

Speed is a serious issue on Lake Merced Boulevard, one of the city’s designated ‘high-injury’ streets due to the frequency of traffic crashes. With its wide, multiple lanes, drivers often treat it like a freeway even though it’s right next to a multi-use park trail.

In 2021, the SFMTA started planning to bring a ‘Vision Zero Quick Build’ project to Lake Merced Boulevard. ‘Vision Zero Quick Build’ projects use paint, posts, signs, and signal changes to calm traffic at a fraction of the cost of capital projects.

Walk SF wanted to do everything possible to speed up this project – and ensure the SFMTA designed it as strongly as possible.

So last year, Walk SF went out with neighbors and members of the nearby Pomeroy Center community (pictured above) to look at what was happening with speed, as well as identify specific safety issues. We logged many drivers going over 50MPH, with deadly speeds a looming threat to the many students, families, and seniors on this street. (Learn more in our report, Making San Francisco a ‘Safe Speeds City’)

Our efforts and voices culminated in a vote this past Tuesday by the SFMTA Board of Directors, which approved the Lake Merced Quick Build project to:

  • Remove a travel lane at the northern and southern sections to create a ‘road diet’ which slows speeding and narrows the crossing distance.
  • Narrow remaining travel lanes to reduce excessive speeds.
  • Add a protected bike lane southbound (from Skyline to Middlefield and Brotherhood to John Muir) and northbound (from Skyline to Sunset, Middlefield to Vidal, and Brotherhood to John Muir) to encourage people on bikes to use the street and give space for people walking and jogging. Plus, this will create a buffer between vehicle lanes and the promenade.
  • Paint continental crossings and advance limit lines to improve visibility at crosswalks.
  • Increase the signal head size to make signals more visible to drivers.

These changes can’t happen fast enough. The SFMTA says they will start construction this spring with the project’s most important pedestrian improvements will be done in a matter of months.

This is an important, life-saving win for pedestrians on the west side. As many voiced during Tuesday’s SFMTA Board meeting, though, more changes are needed nearby. Major improvements at dangerous intersections like Brotherhood Way and Font Boulevard depend on the long-awaited ParkMerced development moving forward. And tens of millions of dollars would be needed to build robust pedestrian safety and bicycling connections to the west side and Daly City.

And beyond this neighborhood, there are dozens of designated high-injury streets like Lake Merced Boulevard that await safety improvements. We’re very concerned that the SFMTA fell far short of their target of 20 miles of Quick Build projects in 2022, completing fewer than three miles.

That’s why Walk SF will do everything we can to hold the City to their traffic safety promises this year with your help. So stay tuned and thank you for being part of our movement!