Open Letter to Mayor Lee, Director Reiskin, and Supervisor Wiener

Below is a quick letter to Mayor Lee, Director Reiskin, and Supervisor Wiener regarding a couple transit and mobility observations from my daily commute and our the Elgin Park neighborhood.

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Dear Mayor Lee, Director Reiskin, and Supervisor Wiener,

First off, I think all three of you are doing a wonderful job in your respective positions. I applaud your refreshed political leadership styles that are a positive move to reforming the political landscape in San Francisco. I have a couple items that I would like to share with you.

Dreamforce and oracle openworld
During the recent Dreamforce conference and other conferences that close Howard Street, traffic downtown was a headache and snarled mobility. It was noticeably slower travel on all modes of transit (cab, Muni – above ground, and bicycle). I believe there could have been additional measures taken to mitigate these traffic concerns, including such things as:

  • More Traffic Officers at a wider selection of intersections
  • Stronger enforcement at intersections to prevent blocking of cross traffic when the lights changed
  • Temporary right turn restrictions from westbound Mission onto 3rd Street, from 3rd Street onto Market Street and from Market Street onto New Montgomery Street
  • Stronger enforcement of Transit-only lanes on Mission Street
  • Temporary extension of westbound Transit-only lanes on Mission Street from 1st Street to 3rd Street
  • I know these just a few ideas that may or may not have merit in broader transit planning for these conferences and that your teams likely have numerous options and implications to consider. But, I believe it is important to offer feedback as the traffic situation had a noticeable impact on downtown mobility.

Kearny and market intersection
Secondly, as a daily pedestrian or cyclist that uses the Market Street and Kearny Street intersection, I believe the current configuration poses safety concerns. Several of the concerns that I see include the following, with suggested solutions for consideration:

  • Northbound traffic on 3rd Street egregiously runs red lights. This can be the result of several things based on my observations, 1) cars can see the second set of traffic signals on Geary and Kearny, which stay green longer than the Market and 3rd lights, and 2) northbound traffic can be prevented from crossing Market due to cross traffic blocking right of way, so they speed through as a result of frustration. Suggested solution: 1) install programmable visible signals, thus the traffic signal on Geary and Kearny is only visible to closer traffic, 2) use Traffic Officers to prevent lane blockage during peak traffic periods and the evening commute hours, 3) reduce the number of lanes to align with the number of lanes on northbound Kearny Street from four to three, and 4) remove the lane jostle and straighten lanes through intersection so there is less lane switching mid-intersection.
  • Northbound traffic on 3rd Street that is turning left onto Geary Street often conflict with pedestrian traffic crossing Geary Street. Suggested solution: 1) Reduce the number of turning lanes from two to one and make that one left turn lane an optional turn, not a forced turn, 2) better signage at the intersection and before Market Street, and 3) better lane and crossing pavement markings.
  • Pedestrians have a long crossing on the south side of Market Street. Suggested solution: build bulb-out on the southeast corner of the intersection, would work well with existing commercial parking on the west side of 3rd Street.
  • Eastbound bus stops on Market Street significantly back up traffic. Suggested solution: remove eastbound bus stops between between 3rd Street and New Montgomery Street or move the stop further east.
  • Pedestrians have a long crossing on the north side of Geary Street. Suggested solution: build bulb-out on the northwest corner of the intersection.
  • Pedestrians have a long crossing on the north side of Market Street. Suggested solution: expand the size of the island on east side of Kearny Street, which would align well with the reduction in through lanes mentioned above.
  • Eastbound cyclist have unsafe options to turn left on Kearny Street. Suggestion solution: 1) with the reduction of left turning lanes onto Geary Street, bikes would have a safer route in the left lane through the intersections, 2) install a cross-street bike boxes on 3rd Street, and 3) install bike lanes on 3rd Street from Howard Street to Market Street and on Kearny Street from Market Street to Columbus Avenue.

Duboce avenue from mission street to Guerrero street
The westbound traffic on Duboce Street comes roaring through our neighborhood and cars easily hit 40+ mph when crossing Valencia Street. As an active intersection for pedestrians and cyclists, these speeds pose a safety risk. Several suggestions for consideration:

  • Bulb-outs on all four corners of the intersection to shorten pedestrian crossing distance and constrict the perceived road space.
  • Dedicated left turn lane for westbound and eastbound traffic from Duboce Street onto Valencia Street. These can be a protected left turn lanes in each direction during their respective commute hours. This also would reduce the westbound traffic lanes from three to two.
  • Mitigate westbound traffic flow at Mission Street by decoupling westbound traffic from the off-ramp and Division Street. The current configuration creates traffic flows where there is significant lane change for all traffic, which leads to higher speeds as cars race to change lanes.
  • In terms of all of the above feedback and suggestions, my goal is merely give these issues greater awareness among our leaders. I do not request any particular follow-up as that would add unnecessary work.

Lastly, I would like to thank the city and you for the great streetscape changes that have been and are currently under way on Elgin Park, Pearl Street, McCoppin Street, Valencia Street from Duboce Street to McCoppin Street, Stevenson Street, and the McCoppin Hub. These changes have been great thus far and we look forward to all the wonderful things to come with the improved streetscape, skatepark, and increased community.

Sincerely,
Bowen

CC: Leah Shaham – SF Bicycle Coalition, Elizabeth Stampe – Walk SF

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2 Responses

  1. Response from Ed Reiskin:

    Bowen:

    Thanks for your letter and your very thorough and thoughtful analysis and suggestions! I’ve seen some of the conflicts and challenges you mention, and I’ll be happy to have my staff review your suggestions.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help make SF a better and safer city!
    Ed

  2. Response from Elizabeth Sharpe:

    Hi Bowen,

    Thanks for the thoughtful letter. You make some excellent points.

    Walk SF is advocating for bulb-outs on the streets that cross Market as part of the Better Market Street project, to shorten crossings and slow speeding cars — this element still hasn’t been included in the plan, and I hope you’ll keep speaking up for that, and support Walk SF’s advocacy as well.

    Best,
    Elizabeth

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