Update: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors voted unanimously to approve the extension of the four streets. Read about it here.
Update: There were initially technical issues accessing the meeting, but it appears to be viewable at the right place — go to Channel 78 on SFGOVTV, here.
For directions on how to watch or publicly comment at the Tuesday meeting, click here.
Whether Shotwell Street continues to have signage and barricades that discourage driving — a pandemic adjustment to give residents outdoor space — will be determined at today’s meeting of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
Thirteen of 14 blocks along Shotwell Street, a corridor from Cesar Chavez to 14th streets filled with some of the neighborhood’s oldest Victorians, have been a part of the city’s Slow Streets program, which installed signage and barriers along more than 30 city streets during the pandemic. The program began in April, 2020, to discourage driving and encourage socially distanced walking and bicycling.
Three other slow street corridors may be extended at the 1 p.m. meeting, including Golden Gate Avenue from Masonic Avenue to Broderick Street, Lake Street from 28th to 2nd avenues, and Sanchez Street from 23rd to 30th streets. Any corridors not extended will no longer be Slow Streets 120 days after the Covid-19 Emergency is lifted, an end point that remains unclear.
Though the resolution includes all four streets, the board may modify it before the vote, according to Erica Kato, a spokesperson for the transportation agency.
If approved for an extension, the Shotwell and Sanchez Slow Street corridors will, shortly after the vote, enter a design review and approval process that would conclude with a public hearing finalizing the designs. Design costs can vary greatly depending on a corridor’s length, number of intersections and roadway tools, but the estimated cost for the design of a 10-block slow street on Shotwell is $45,000, Kato said.
If a slow street design requires changing traffic controls that require a public hearing, the hearing would have a to-be-determined date, according to Kato. (Traffic controls requiring public hearings are defined in the San Francisco Transportation Code.)
The Shotwell slow street currently feels unsafe to those walking along the roadway, primarily because the “very narrow street” has too much vehicle traffic, according to slides that will be presented to the board.
Kieran Farr, who lives near Shotwell Street and frequently bikes there to take his daughter to school said it’s common to see many people, especially children, stick to the sidewalk due to safety concerns.
Just 32 percent of visitors surveyed about the corridor called it “very safe,” compared to 58 percent for the Page Street corridor and 70 percent for the Lake Street corridor, according to general findings of a survey conducted by the transportation agency.
For all three corridors, the primary reason some people voted it was “somewhat safe” or “unsafe” was because of drivers disobeying restrictions to non-local access. Farr said he’s seen the disregard: There have been, for example, slow street signs knocked over and sandbags weighing them down smashed open, he said.
The proposed design for a more permanent Shotwell Slow Street would add traffic diverters (skinny installed poles) and signage at any intersections without them, among other additions.
Residents have been asking for the traffic diverters to better enforce the restriction against through traffic, said Scott Feeney, a resident who lives along the corridor.
Feeney said he would also welcome a diverter at 17th Street to reduce the temptation among westbound commuters to turn left onto Shotwell Street once 17th Street is backed up in the evening commute.
Feeney said he would also want to see a more permanent version of the east-west Slow Street at 20th Street from Lexington Street to Potrero Avenue, which connects with the north-south Shotwell Slow Street; perhaps, he said, the agency could place a diagonal diverter at Shotwell and 20th Street to prevent turning where the two Slow Streets intersect.
“Right now, at that intersection, people get confused,” he said. “They don’t know where to go, because drivers are driving on both streets even though they’re slow streets.”
Of 114 residents surveyed who live along the corridor, 94 percent supported the Shotwell slow street becoming permanent; 56 percent said they strongly agreed that it’s safer than before it became a slow street; 88 percent of visitors surveyed expressed that their experience using the corridor was positive; and 87 percent observed others physically distancing.
We will update this story after today’s vote.