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Big news and what’s next for safe streets in the Western Addition neighborhood

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The Tenderloin has become a role model for the rest of the city when it comes to slowing dangerous speeds and making pedestrians safer.

The speed limit is now 20 MPH through the whole neighborhood. There are pedestrian scrambles at 11 dangerous intersections and no-turn-on-red at every intersection. Five streets in the neighborhood have had traffic calming projects, including lane reduction, pedestrian safety zones, and turn restrictions.

We want every neighborhood to follow the lead of Tenderloin.

Which brings us to the Western Addition, a neighborhood just west of City Hall that’s about a mile wide. It sits between Geary Boulevard to the north, Oak Street to the south, Van Ness to the east, and Baker Street to the west (all high-injury streets).

Eight people were killed in crashes between 2017 and 2021 in this neighborhood alone, with most of these victims being pedestrians. Many more people were severely injured. Dangerous speed is a major issue in the neighborhood, with many drivers cutting through to other parts of the city going much too fast. Meanwhile, there are many schools and senior centers in the neighborhood.

Thankfully, some big news earlier this month means that the Western Addition is poised to get a suite of safety improvements.

On February 1, the SFMTA was awarded $17.6 million in federal funding from the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program. This funding is for the Western Addition Community Safe Streets Project, which was developed in 2017, shaped by the community, and has been pursuing funds since to make it happen. The project includes a suite of proposed improvements including:

  • Improvements to crosswalks including daylighting, high-visibility continental crosswalks, bulb-outs, curb ramps, plus flashing beacons at some locations.
  • New and improved traffic signals, which will give pedestrians a head start and be audible for those with limited sight.
  • Lower speed limits and speed radar signs, plus bring traffic calming projects on two corridors. The SFMTA plans to reduce speed limits from 25 MPH to 20 MPH on up to 25 eligible “safety corridors” in the Western Addition and install up to 5 speed radar signs. The SFMTA also plans to complete up to two Vision Zero Quick Build projects; high-injury streets being considered include Golden Gate Avenue from Gough to Divisadero, Turk Street from Gough to Divisadero, and O’Farrell Street between Steiner and Fillmore.

Together, these safety improvements would bring needed changes to the Western Addition. And change is desperately needed.

Walk SF will work with Western Addition neighbors and community groups to support a final project that meets the highest bar for safety – and stays on track with its multi-year timeline. This includes leading walk audits, building awareness around the role of speed in safe streets, and supporting residents as safe streets advocates.

This is such a big opportunity for the Western Addition, plus the whole city to #SlowOurStreets. Thank you to the SFMTA for pursuing this funding so the Western Addition can get comprehensive solutions for slower, safer streets!

The funding for the SS4A Grant Program comes from President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and advances U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s nationwide effort to improve roads and address traffic fatalities. San Francisco’s application was supported by Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Alex Padilla.

Banner image: SFMTA Photography Department