July 23, 2013
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency planners recently released their new plan for a redesign of busy Polk Street to accommodate more numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists, without impacting current parking arrangements.
The plans were developed after months of consultations with bicyclists, as well as merchants. Bicyclists’ main concerns have been the lack of safe lanes to ride bicycles, while local businesses have been concerned that the reduced parking arrangements, as a result of increased bicycling facilities, will drive away customers.
The new proposals released by San Francisco are meant to be a sort of compromise, and preserves much of the parking that currently exists on Polk Street with a significant addition of space for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Not surprisingly, the plan has been criticized by both bicyclists and merchants. Bicyclists claim that the plan does not include a full continuous separated bicycle lane and bicycle track on both sides of Polk Street. Merchants also have criticized the plan because they do not want the city to take away any parking spaces at all.
Safety on Polk Street has been a top priority for San Francisco City Officials, because this area has been the site of a number of serious and fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents recently. Over the past five years alone, at least 53 pedestrians and 69 bicyclists have been injured in accidents on Polk Street, most of these accidents occur at intersections.
The pedestrian safety as part of the new proposal is likely to meet with more acceptances. These plans include high visibility crosswalks, more numbers of red zones constructed near intersections to improve visibility, as well as better signal timing.