Palou Street on deck for pedestrian improvements

Pedestrian and traffic improvements are coming to a 1.7 mile stretch of Palou Avenue in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors approved several safety improvements on Palou Avenue across Third Street between Barneveld Avenue and Crisp, Road as well as on Quesada Avenue between Third and Griffith streets. The vote was 5-1, with Director Gwyneth Borden in dissent.

The improvements include 10 corner bulb-outs that would shorten the distance for pedestrians crossing the street, 15 medians, new paving, new striping to make the street look more narrow and adding bike lanes on Quesada Avenue.

All the corner bulb-outs are located at Muni transit stops where the 23-Monterey, 24-Divisadero, 44 O’Shaughnessy currently serve. The bulb-outs would help Muni passengers boarding the front door including seniors and disabled passengers, according to transit officials.

Bike lanes would also be added on Quesada Avenue.

Felipe Robles, the SFMTA project manager for the Palou Streetscape Improvement Project, said the improvements would also include installing a cul-de-sac at the southeastern corner at the intersection of Palou and Silver avenues. The cul-de-sac would be placed on Quint Street using removable bollards.

Currently, the street is a five-leg intersection which can sometimes be difficult for pedestrians to cross and can confuse motorists said Robles:

“We heard from a lot of people that driving through there isn’t as easy as they would like it to be.”

Robles added:

“There’s a lot of kind of stopping and starting. It’s hard to tell when your turn is to go.”

Johanna Cobly, who lives on Palou Avenue at Newhall Street, said she wanted transit officials to look at angled parking at four locations on Palou:

“We know that although it would be nice to have diagonal parking on the entire length of Palou, we are not really asking for that. We are asking for diagonal parking at four locations west of Third Street.”

The SFMTA staff report said that 15 parking spaces would be eliminated with the installation of the corner bulb-outs.

Coble said she submitted 500 signatures on petition to have the SFMTA look at angled parking at areas that include at the Palou & Phelps Park and also at nearby Caltrain tunnel.

Robles said that the transit agency did look at the entire length of Palou Avenue for locations where diagonal parking could be possible, but said the curb space was too short:

“In order to really gain a lot of parking spaces, you need a stretch of about 100 feet at least and that way you can convert a number of parallel parking spaces and increase the amount of parking with angled spaces.”

He added that there would not be a significant net gain of parking spaces from changing parallel parking spaces to angled spaces:

“Because there are such few spaces and the net gain in parking would be so little – if we look at the Muni, safety and reliability trade offs that angled parking presents especially for buses on overhead wire lines – we don’t recommend installing angled parking on Palou itself.”

Quint Street resident Ifey Nzerem, said she was opposed to adding the cul-de-sac because of the possibility of people ditching items at the dead end street:

“People will start abandoning cars, abandoning RVs, which we often see in our communities.”

Nzerem also said she and other residents had previously asked for a stop sign at the intersection of Quint and Quesada streets, but heard nothing back from the SFMTA.

Director Gordon said she was not a fan of the cul-de-sac because of the illegal dumping that occurs often in the neighborhood and dead end streets and suggested SFMTA staff to look into other interim ideas before installing the cul-de-sac.

She added that she wanted to staff to take a deeper look at where angled parking could be added on Palou Avenue because she knows that residents need their private cars because of how far residents are from the rest of The City:

Gordon said she would not support the project not because she was not in favor of safety, but because she felt more work could have been done by staff in addressing the corner bulb-outs:

“I feel like we haven’t done enough due diligence both around the bulb-out situation and the fact that the community has in the passed ask for interventions here and for whatever reason they didn’t happen.”