Proposed Speed Limit Decrease Isn't Enough, Say McLaren Park Advocates

By Will Carruthers - Published on April 11, 2017.

Two months after the city unveiled a $7 million remodel of Mansell Street, including new dedicated pedestrian and bicycle pathways, the SFMTA is now accepting public comments on a proposal to lower the speed limit on the street, which bisects McLaren Park.

The proposal would lower the speed limit between Visitacion and Brazil avenues from 45 mph to 40 mph. But that's not low enough for park advocates like Linda Litehiser, a member of the McLaren Park Collaborative.

"I have not heard one person who thinks [lowering the speed limit to 40 mph] would be an adequate change," Litehiser wrote in an email about the SFMTA's proposal. She'd like to see the speed through the park lowered to 25 mph.

Liteheiser notes that the speed on Mansell Street next to Philip and Sala Burton High School is already set at 15 mph—and 25 mph in neighborhoods near the park. She and other members of the McLaren Park Collaborative have also proposed installing a stop sign at the western intersection of Mansell and John F. Shelley Drive.

Although city officials discussed "slowing things down" on Mansell Street at the February ribbon-cutting ceremony, a specific speed limit was never discussed, according to Litehiser.

In a response to neighbors, SFMTA said that lowering the speed limit below 40 mph may be complicated by state law.

"Speed limits in California are set following state law, in order to avoid creating what are commonly known as 'speed traps,'" the SFMTA's response reads. 

A similar debate about bicycle safety and speed limits occurred in Golden Gate Park last fall, after a cyclist was killed in a June 2016 hit-and-run incident on John F. Kennedy Drive.

In November, the city installed 10 speed humps on JFK Drive, as part of a collaborative effort between multiple departments to reduce "unsafe speeds in Golden Gate Park."

For those interested in voicing their opinion on Mansell Street's speed limit, SFMTA's public hearing is scheduled for this Friday, April 14th at 10am in City Hall, Room 416. 

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