Pedestrian Safety Enhancements On The Way To Columbus Avenue

Pedestrian Safety Enhancements On The Way To Columbus AvenuePhotos: Nathan Falstreau/Hoodline
Nathan Falstreau
Published on February 23, 2016

If you've strolled down Columbus Avenue recently, you might have noticed distinct changes in the works, especially on the 500 block, from the former La Boulange down to the corner at Vallejo Street, in front of Alimento Delicatessen. The activity is part of SFMTA's Columbus Avenue Safety Project, which will bring sidewalk bulb-outs and other pedestrian safety measures to the neighborhood.

So far, the city has removed nine ficus trees that once lined the block, for safety reasons. As we previously reported, ficus trees in the neighborhood have a history of toppling over, and those nine tree were identified for removal back in October. Construction crews have also been digging up the sidewalk and curb for several weeks now, and will repair the sidewalk and replant new Brisbane Box trees in time for Arbor Day (in California, Arbor Week runs March 7-14).

The greater Columbus Avenue Safety Project includes improvements at several intersections of Columbus Avenue, from Washington Street north to Green and Stockton. SFMTA is coordinating this with a repaving project led by SF Public Works, which would affect Columbus Avenue from Washington to Filbert.

These pedestrian improvements are part of San Francisco’s "Vision Zero goal of no traffic fatalities by 2024," according to San Francisco Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon. The project will include creating permanent pedestrian bulb-outs, which caused some disagreement in the neighborhood last year. (Some neighbors were concerned bulb-outs would slow response times for emergency vehicles, while others said the bulb-outs will help reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities, as they slow down traffic and improve pedestrian visibility.)

Despite the debate, bulb-outs and "continental crosswalks" (often called "zebra stripes") will be installed at these four intersections as part of the project:

  • Columbus and Grant avenues
  • Columbus Avenue, Green and Stockton streets
  • Columbus Avenue and Vallejo Street
  • Columbus Avenue, Pacific and Kearny streets

Other work will include the replacement of a water main on Columbus Avenue and on Vallejo Street west to Grant Avenue. The SFMTA has also proposed the addition of bicycle lanes in both directions of Columbus Avenue between Broadway and Washington Street, though it's unclear if that is part of the current project.

According to the project web page, the proposed pedestrian improvements are being funded through a combination of SFMTA revenue bonds (about $509,000) and Proposition B funds (roughly $800,000). Construction is expected to take one year, with a target completion date in February 2017.