Monday, July 20, 2009

Less Median, More Sidewalk

Work is about to begin on the Valencia Streetscape Improvements project. There are a number of elements of the Better Streets "Plan" that will be installed along the four-block stretch in question, but the biggest single change will be the removal of the 13-foot wide center parking lane median and the addition of 6 to 9 feet of sidewalk (half on each side of the street, of course).

According to Streetsblog, Liveable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich "was hopeful that Valencia could serve as a model for many of the ideas that are in the Better Streets Plan." And indeed we all should remain hopeful that more of our street space is turned over to pedestrian use.
Unfortunately, not all street improvement projects currently underway are quite so admirable.

The project to redesign notorious traffic sewer Cesar Chavez Street will not include wider sidewalks but will instead add 14-foot-wide center median to the expressway. Thus ensuring that cars will continue to speed to and from the "hairball" of on/off-ramps below Highway 101 and the street will continue to divide Bernal Heights from the Mission - albeit under the shade of pretty new trees.

Divisadero will also be "improved" without doing much to address the public pedestrian spaces along the street.


Tom Radulovich said...

Thanks for calling out Cesar Chavez. Sometime last year, I was briefed by Planning Department staff on the Cesar Chavez plans, which included a 14' median. I suggested a 10' or 11' median, with the excess width allocated to the sides – wider bike lanes, sidewalks, or perhaps both. They agreed then to carry forward both

The Planning Department disclosed recently that they are studying only the 14' median. Drivers whizzing by will enjoy a double row of trees; residents will be left with stingy sidewalks too narrow for street trees.

Pedestrianist said...

I quote this line from our City Charter so often I ought to have it tattooed on my forehead:

"Decisions regarding the use of limited public street and sidewalk space shall encourage the use of public rights of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit"

14' of landscaping that can only be viewed from across 20 or so feet of fast-moving traffic hardly encourages the use of the right of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, or Muni.

And I'm skeptical that it will be an enjoyable place to be stranded during a red light.