Good news for pedestrians along Geary Boulevard will soon benefit from safer and more pleasant intersections plans with a new Bus Rapid Transit project along the corridor.
The new BRT project will improve Muni service 15 to 20 percent faster and also more reliable between Downtown, the Richmond District, and neighborhoods in between, say’s planners David Uniman and Colin Dentel at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Planners will also propose improvements to make street crossings safer, especially in the Western Addition and Japantown neighborhoods.
As part of urban renewal in the 1950s, Geary Boulevard was constructed with expressway-like underpasses and wide intersections, restricting pedestrian crossings and dividing the Japantown and Western Addition neighborhoods. The BRT project includes new, safer street crossings and other measures to help rebuild the historic connections between the adjacent neighborhoods.
The potential downside for some are that the street would lose two lanes and become less favorable for car traffic and street parking will be reduced. Although, the narrower roadway would calm speeding traffic and give pedestrians fewer lanes to cross and leave room for new intersection treatments.
At Webster and Steiner Streets, new crosswalks on Geary Boulevard would have multiple pedestrian refuge areas, and protected medians for safety. New pedestrian signals will be adjusted with longer time and provide countdowns to let you know how much time you have left to cross the street. Other intersections would have bulb-outs, sidewalk extensions that narrow the street width and shorten pedestrian crossings.
The BRT project is currently in the environmental analysis phase, with a draft report expected in September that will compare several alternatives and detail their benefits and impacts. Public meetings will be scheduled this fall to discuss the alternatives and planners’ recommendations with the communities along the corridor.
If the proposal is approved, buses could be running faster and pedestrians feeling safer would be a major benefit for pedestrians along Geary Boulevard by 2019.