Drivers traveling through central SoMa – beware. There is a bounty on your heads for all those pedestrian kills. Not to mention you slow down Muni and pollute the air. Powered by the Central SoMa Plan, the SF Planning department wants to thin down the herd. Say goodbye to wide streets and fast roads because it’s all about to change (actually it’s already happening). The proposal which has been percolating since 2011, originated as a spinoff from the Central T Subway initiative. From building zoning to public parks, plan authors were given responsibility to re-purpose the half square mile area surrounding the future subway line. Analyzing the current streetscape and traffic patterns, they also saw an opportunity to reduce dependencies on vehicles and encourage use of alternative transportation methods.
From a transportation and traffic flow perspective, the plan advocates the following changes:
- Create new dedicate bike and transit lanes.
- Reduce number of car lanes.
- Increase the width of sidewalks.
- Paint “self-enforcing” colors on bike and transit lanes.
- Add additional pedestrian crosswalks and lights.
- Increase off-street parking costs.
These changes are intended to reduce vehicle usage and traffic speeds in order to combat their following negative impacts:
- Excessive pedestrian injuries and kill rates. 21 died last year. (How many were caused by Muni?)
- Low average speeds and unreliability of Muni. Vehicles in transit lanes block Muni buses.
- High atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs). 40% of GHGs come from vehicle traffic.
- Sedentary San Francisco life styles. Walking and biking are healthier substitutes.
- Disrupted street life. As stated, “Streets are not just for movement, but for slowing down to socialize and take in the rhythms of the City.”
The plan is in the review phase but that hasn’t stopped the SFMTA from already enforcing the proposed rules. Larger green colored bike lanes have appeared on Folsom Street and Third street now brandishes wider sidewalks and crimson colored transit lanes. For a comprehensive list of all proposed changes visit the SF Planning’s Central SoMa Plan Site.