Since 2015, SFMTA and members of the Western Addition community have been working together to create the Western Addition Community-Based Transportation Plan and address pedestrian safety and improve transit. Today, the plan went to SFMTA’s Board of Directors.
Many of the streets in the Western Addition fall along the city’s High-Injury Network, the 12 percent of city streets that account for 70 percent of the city's severe and fatal traffic injuries.
Over the course of a 10-month outreach process, MTA planners have hosted 11 open houses. More than 380 neighbors have come to discuss transportation-related issues, including pedestrian safety, speeding, congestion and walkability, in the Western Addition.
As soon as later this year, near-term improvements could be rolled out at 41 Western Addition intersections, including:
- continental crosswalks: painted stripes on the road paired with a setback to reduce vehicles encroachment into the crosswalks
- daylighting: creating a clear space near intersections to increase viability
- leading pedestrian intervals that signal pedestrians to start walking 3-5 seconds before vehicles are given a green light
“This is the first time MTA has done a community planning process like this,” SFMTA spokesperson Ben Jose told us. “The process really empowered folks in the neighborhood to give us their ideas.”
MTA engaged Western Addition neighbors by leveraging local community groups. That’s how Mo'MAGIC, a local non-profit community collaborative, got involved. The nonprofit worked with the team to share feedback and support community outreach events for the transportation plan.
"The Western Addition community has its share of transportation challenges,” wrote Devi Zinzuvadia, Mo’MAGIC’s director of engagement, in an email. She noted that concerns like uneven sidewalks, insufficient lighting, speeding vehicles and unreliable bus service were known issues.
“[We made sure that] the voices of the youth, children, families and seniors who live and attend school in the area could be heard,” wrote Zinzuvadia. “From an equity perspective, the Western Addition has not historically been a high-priority service area. It's heartening to see the process lean heavily on input from community members.”
Mo’MAGIC hopes that by including resident perspective and feedback in MTA's recommendations, the plan will bring lasting transit and safety improvements to the Western Addition.
Monica Munowitch, a MTA transportation planner, told us that the plan’s “community-based” designation was something that came out of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “It wasn’t unique to the Western Addition or born out of MTA,” she said, “but it was the first community-based program that we led.”
Even though it was the first such effort, the agency was pleased with how the plan came together with residents' feedback.
‘We definitely heard a lot of enthusiasm from the community,” Munowitch noted. “People were talking about safety concerns and crime and getting around. It was interesting to talk about transportation as an empowerment tool.”
Danielle Harris, another SFMTA transportation planner, agreed.
“We really saw it as an opportunity," said Harris, "to tie residents' expertise with their neighborhood with our technical expertise to build something together.”
Other improvements are also slated for the area. Mid-term recommendations include:
- Golden Gate Avenue between Divisadero and Gough streets will go from three to two lanes. A one-way bike lane will be installed. All existing parking will remain.
- Turk Street will remain two lanes and continental crosswalks will be created to increase pedestrian visibility. No buffered bike lane will be added and current parking will be maintained.
- Additional pedestrian countdown signals and rapid flashing beacons will be installed along high-injury corridors.
Finally, over the long-term, residents could see these changes to the area:
- Improve safety and access to the Buchanan Street Mall, including the installation of a mid-block pedestrian bulb to slow down traffic and increase visibility.
- A Walkable Western Addition initiative, meant to improve pedestrian lighting to address crime and safely.
To date, $5.8 million has been secured for the Western Addition Community-Based Transportation Plan, which is enough to fully fund the plan’s near- and mid-term construction phases. However, the amount only represents about 50 percent of the necessary funds to implement the entire plan, said SFMTA public information officer Bradley Dunn.
The agency is reportedly working to secure additional funding for the plan’s long-term recommendations from Prop AA and city's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
“We’re happy that we were able to come up with funds we have,” Munowitch said. “MTA is the one completing the plan, so we can work directly with our finance folks to make the plan’s implementation smooth.”