‘Protec­ted inter­section’ shields SoMa bicyclists, pedestrians

San Francisco officials Wednesday unveiled a first-of-its-kind intersection design at Ninth and Division streets that could soon be seen at other intersections throughout The City.

It’s called a “protected intersection” where all modes of transportation including driving, walking and biking benefit from the newly-designed street, according officials of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The City is working toward the goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024 known as Vision Zero.

SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said one of the ways The City is working toward the goal is by redesigning city streets. He said officials know from data collected that 70 percent of severe or fatal collisions happen on 12 percent of city streets and corridors.

Ninth and Division streets is one of those corridors is that on The City’s high-injury network, said Reiskin:

“Where were standing right now at Ninth and Division, is one of those areas that lights up on the map of San Francisco that has been the unfortunate location where people have gotten seriously hurt or killed just trying to get around San Francisco.”

The newly designed street includes concrete boarding islands at the corners of the street to slow down motorists and make pedestrians more visible.

Bicyclists approaching Ninth and Division streets will notice a new green parking-protected bike lane that will help separate motorists from bicyclists.

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The SFMTA said more than 200 bicyclists ride through the intersection during the morning rush hour accounting for 25 percent of the traffic. Ninth and Division streets is a known intersection for collisions between turning vehicles and bicyclists, transit officials said.

Mayor Ed Lee said The City looked at data pertaining to the intersection:

“We also looked at the accident data, the fatality data, to also inform us that this was an important intersection to make this change so that hopefully everybody driving their vehicle will appreciate there are multiple users for this intersection of people using different modes of transportation.”

Lee added:

“It will be a good test of how integrated modes of transportation will work in a very urban city like San Francisco.”

The $350,000 project was collaboration between the SFMTA and the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

Mohammed Nuru, director of public works, said the concrete islands make it safer for crossing pedestrians. He also said his department will be creating more of these intersections throughout The City in the future.

Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, applauded city leaders for using a street design that has already been successful in other parts of the country. He said he looks forward to seeing more protected intersections in The City:

“This protected intersection will help reduce the chaos crossing the street here at Ninth and Division and we hope that soon it will be copied and embraced in other parts and other dangerous intersections and corridors across our city’s high-injury network.”

While construction was occurring in the area, The City also made upgraded improvements to adjacent streets.

On Ninth Street between Division and Brannan streets, the traffic flow changed from one-way to two-way traffic. Parking on the west side changed to perpendicular parking and a new sidewalk was added.

The parking-protected bikeway on 13th and Division streets expanded between Potrero Avenue and Ninth Street in both directions, transit officials said.

Street changes to Ninth and Division streets are part of the 13th/Division Street Safety Project.