Opinions Are Divided On North Beach’s Proposed Traffic-Calming ‘Bulb-Outs’

Next Tuesday, June 30th from 6:30-8pm, North Beach Neighbors is hosting another meeting at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club (1630 Stockton St.) to discuss traffic-calming measures slated for the community.

As part of the Columbus Avenue Safety Project, SFMTA is proposing bulb-outs at four intersections in North Beach, and some neighbors are concerned they’ll slow down response times for emergency vehicles. Others say the bulb-outs will help reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities, as they slow down traffic and improve pedestrian visibility.

Either way, North Beach Neighbors President Trish Herman wants more information presented to the community before bulb-outs are installed. “In my opinion, they’re trying to shove this down everybody’s throat,” she said.

The previous meeting, on April 30th, included testimony from three firefighters opposed to bulb-outs (they did not speak on behalf of the Fire Department, but as individual citizens). They expressed concern about potential delays in emergency response times and damage to fire trucks. Among the crowd of a few dozen neighbors, several shared concerns that the bulb-outs would further clog traffic, and one was worried about bulb-outs placing pedestrians closer to traffic, which would actually decrease safety.

At this next meeting, representatives from the San Francisco Fire Department and SF Public Works will speak. Herman hopes a representative from the SFMTA will be there as well, though she said there was some confusion on that, because they initially scheduled a meeting for the same time and date upstairs from the North Beach Neighbors meeting. “We’re unsure whether the MTA will come and speak,” she said. “If they don’t, I’ll present what they presented to us at our board meeting.”… (more)

Herman said her goal is to get hard facts on the effects of traffic calming on a community and to determine whether it will be good, specifically, for the complex intersections in North Beach. “I’m saying that one size does not fit all,” she said, noting that bulb-outs in the Castro have caused traffic back-ups. She said she filed a Sunshine Ordinance request with the SFMTA for documents with proof that bulb-outs work, and the packet she received consisted of studies from 2001 and 2005. “We’re dealing with old data,” she said.

Removing parking spaces for the bulb-outs is another concern. “They’re not considering the vehicle public,” Herman said. “Parking has been removed at high rates throughout the city.” She expressed particular concern for elderly and disabled people, for whom walking and biking isn’t always a realistic option. Another concern is people coming from across the Bay Area who support the business base in North Beach, and need to park to frequent shops and restaurants. “Muni is so grossly inefficient,” she said. “North Beach is a difficult neighborhood to get to using Muni.”… (more)

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