With bike lanes in place, Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project eyes longer-term improvements

After making some near-term improvements to bring parking-protected bikeways to Folsom and Howard streets, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is looking at the longer-term picture.

Tomorrow and next Wednesday, the agency will hold two community open house meetings for the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities on the two streets and make it "more pleasant to walk, bike, shop and live" along Howard Street from 11th to 4th streets and Folsom Street from 11th to 2nd streets.

The relevant blocks of Folsom and Howard are all part of San Francisco's Vision Zero high-injury network, the 12 percent of city streets that account for 70 percent of San Francisco's severe and fatal traffic crashes. In 2018 alone, two people were killed in collisions on Folsom and Howard.

The $26 million project, which kicked off in 2016, is set to be completed in 2023. Some open house meetings have already been held, and the latest pair are intended to get public feedback on a host of pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.

For pedestrians, SFMTA is planning to install six new signalized mid-block crossings that are meant to help people cross long blocks safely, more corner bulbouts that shorten crossing distances and improved signal timing that will give pedestrians a head start.

New two-way bike lanes on Howard Street from 4th to 11th streets and on Folsom Street from 11th to 8th streets will help bicyclists connect between routes, with raised crossings across the bikeways in order to prioritize pedestrians walking from the buffer to the sidewalk.

Newly enhanced signals with separate phases for bikes and right-turning vehicles, similar to the one currently in use at 8th and Folsom streets, will be installed. "These signals will allow us to eliminate mixing zones along the corridor and provide more clarity for turning drivers and cyclists alike," the SFMTA said.

Muni commuters will also benefit from a transit-only lane on Folsom Street from 10th Street to just after 4th Street, intended to speed passage on the 8-Bayshore, 8AX-Express, 8BX-Express and 27-Bryant buses. As a result, the SFMTA expects that the average morning wait times for a bus on Folsom Street will be cut to two minutes, while afternoon wait times will be six minutes.

Since the beginning of the project, 400 people have attended open houses, while another 1,300 have responded to surveys. SFMTA representatives have also met with around 100 businesses along the corridor and 20 different community groups.

If you'd like to share your feedback, tomorrow's meeting will begin at 12:30 p.m., while the second open house this Wednesday, January 30 will take place at 6:30 p.m. Both gatherings will be held at Bessie Carmichael Elementary (375 7th St.)