Better Streets San Francisco
It’s not just the developing Transbay/Rincon neighborhoods that are exploring ways to make San Francisco’s streets more pedestrian friendly.

The Better Streets Plan will create a unified set of standards, guidelines, and implementation strategies to govern how the City designs, builds, and maintains public streets and rights-of-way.

The Plan will seek to balance the needs of all street users, with a particular focus on the pedestrian environment and how streets can be used as public space. The Plan will reflect the understanding that the pedestrian environment is about much more than just transportation – that streets serve a multitude of social, recreational and ecological needs that must be considered when deciding on the most appropriate design.

Next week, a series of “public meetings around your neighborhood.”
Better Streets San Francisco []

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by zzzzzzz

    While I’m pleased to see that attention is finally being focused on our streets, much of this isn’t rocket science: pick up the trash, fill the potholes, plant street trees, bury the utility wires, fix the sidewalks. It’s so obvious, and it’s baffling to me why such basic functions of city government are so utterly neglected.

  2. Posted by Jamie

    One of the interesting things that never occured to me is the need to retain water (that whole global warming thing) and make better use of it when it rains down on us. Some areas of the City have flooding issues as well. Public health is a big consideration too – instead of everyone thinking that exercise is all about going to 24 Hour Fitness, the YMCA, Curves, or Crunch to hop on a machine, let’s make more inviting and safe spaces for walking, jogging, bicycling, and whatever else you can do outdoors in public spaces.
    This is a pretty short project to define a cookbook, if you will, that will impact the way our streets are designed/redesigned for many years to come. The cookbook creation period ends by October 2007.

  3. Posted by thielges

    zzzzzzz : Street design is definitely not rocket science and may not even be a science at all. However good design certainly requires a lot of skill and creativity. Its a lot more than just the issues that you mention. There are plenty of places around the bay area that have nice smooth trash free sidewalks, plenty of trees, and no overhead wire clutter. But those places are absolute dead zones for pedestrians because they were developed in a vacuum without concern for how they fit into the rest of the community.
    Commonly overlooked are matters of :
    – network connectivity (how do you get into and out of the “better streets”. No matter how good the new streets are they won’t receive much foot traffic if they are an isolated island.
    – interfaces to motorized traffic. If you can’t comfortably cross the street (or even just walk down the sidewalk) then pedestrians will stay away.
    – zoning. If there’s the wrong mix of land uses then there are few meaningful journeys that can be done on foot.
    Part of the reason that streets are so bad for pedestrians is that many street designers were educated during an era when the goal was to maximize the speed and volume of auto traffic. While some really speedy streets were created, these often created appalling conditions for those not in a car. Its only been in the last decade or so that graduates have been exposed to other aspects of streetscape design. Its going to require time and deliberate action to reverse the negative effects of the auto-centric legacy.

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