SFMTA begins Taraval Street pedestrian safety pilot

This week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation began its six-month pilot on Taraval Street that uses painted street markings and new signage at five L-Taraval transit stops to remind motorists that they need stop behind Muni trains when passengers are getting on and off.

The pilot is part of a multi-year project called the L-Taraval Rapid Project, which includes making safety and reliability improvements on the L-Taraval as well as pedestrian safety improvements on Taraval Street.

Some of those improvements included adding concrete transit boarding islands at transit stops where one is currently not in place. Adding the transit boarding islands though would require the removal of parking spaces, which merchants had objected to.

Merchants along Taraval Street instead wanted the transit agency to test other ways to improve compliance with motorists stopping behind Muni trains.

As a compromise, the SFMTA has now put visible paint markings on the ground and signage at five transit to tell the motorists where they need to stop, said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin at Tuesday’s SFMTA board meeting:

“The goal of the pilot as a reminder is to improve safety particularly for the people getting on and off the Muni vehicles while preserving parking in the commercial area.”

SFMTA staff will now start evaluating if the new paint markings and signage have any effect in increasing compliance with the law.

Reiskin said about 72 percent of motorists currently comply with stopping behind the train, and want to see that compliance rate jump to 90 percent with the new paint and signage after the six-month pilot is complete.

If the 90 percent compliance rate goal is not met or if there are collisions at the pilot locations, SFMTA staff would pursue placing concrete transit boarding islands.

The pilot locations are at Taraval and 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues in the eastbound direction. Parking spaces in the pilot locations will remain open to the public during the six-month pilot.

SFMTA crews have already painted clear zones at other transit stops where there will eventually be concrete transit boarding islands, striping in the transit-only lane, adding new LED flashing lights on the back of Muni trains and placing larger stickers behind Muni trains as another reminder for motorists to stop behind Muni trains.

Crews have also painted safety zones at pedestrian crosswalks where concrete bulb-outs will eventually be installed.

Removal of eight transit stops took effect in late February, with the exception of the inbound 17th Avenue and Taraval stop, which many residents wanted to keep. The SFMTA said it would evaluate over the next six months to see if the stop can be retained.

Reiskin said the feedback received from the community helped the shaped the project:

“We appreciate that the input has helped shape these improvements, help us define the pilot.”

The SFMTA anticipates to start the work of installing the concrete transit boarding islands and bulb-outs, as well as replacing the rail tracks and overhead wires in 2018.