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Embarcadero showcase reveals plans for safety-focused redesign

Starting next week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will begin implementing near-term improvements along a portion of the Embarcadero following the death of a pedicab operator over the summer.

The SFMTA next Monday will begin work to install a southbound buffered bike lane on the stretch of Embarcadero from Broadway to Mission streets by removing a lane of traffic that drivers could use during the peak periods of the commute times.

The lane instead will turn into all-day parking allowing space for the SFMTA to add a green buffered bike lane.

Pressure from bike and pedestrian advocates was mounting following the death of 66-year old pedicab driver Kevin Manning, who died of his injuries in a hit-and-run collision late June near Sansome Street and Embarcadero.

The Embarcadero is on The City’s high injury corridor where 75 percent of severe and fatal traffic collisions occur on 13 percent of The City’s streets.

Between 2011 and 2016, there were 241 people who injured while traveling on The Embarcadero and two deaths.

District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who attended a SFMTA an open house Thursday night on the latest proposals to improve biking and walking along The Embarcadero, said his office helped fund the near-term improvements:

“It is not an optimal solution but I think it is a sensible short-term safety solution.”

Dozens of bicyclists, pedestrians, personal electric vehicle riders and other citizens viewed possible longer-term solutions for each segment of The Embarcadero and provided feedback to the SFMTA staff.

Mark Dreger, left, a transportation planner, discusses plans to reconfigure the Embarcadero with attendees during a showcase for the Embarcadero Enhancement Project in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, October 25, 2018. Ching Wong/SFBay

The future plan for The Embarcadero calls for a two-way protected bikeway on the side of the waterfront.

New design concepts for each block along The Embarcadero include reducing the crosswalk lengths for pedestrians, restricting left turns for private vehicles, removing streetcar stops to improve both the E-Line and F-Line, adding more loading zones, and removing on-street parking to accommodate the new bikeway.

Tony Esterbrooks, left, an architect of Public Works, discusses with attendees during a public showcase of the Embarcadero Enhancement Project in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, October 25, 2018. Ching Wong/SFBay

Laura Joose, a San Francisco bicyclist who travels along The Embarcadero to get to work, said the future plans looked promising for the safety of bicyclists:

“It’s amazing for me to see the two-way bikeway.”

Joose said she was not as impressed with the near-term solutions which still requires for drivers to enter the bike lane in order to park:

“What’s disappointing are the near-term improvements. We were really hoping for a lot more.”

Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the future plans for The Embarcadero will make it more welcoming and safer for people to bike along the iconic waterfront.

Wiedenmeier said that the project has been delayed for too long and that people’s lives are at stake:

“We need real leadership from The City at all levels to make sure that vision gets implemented.”

Wiedenmeier is also calling for the SFMTA to make any near-term improvements along The Embarcadero as soon as possible:

“Where there are opportunities to do things quickly, we are fully in support of SFMTA moving in speed and we urge them to do that.”

Casey Hildreth, the SFMTA project manager for the Embarcadero Enhancement Project, said it will take the transit agency approximately two weeks to install the near-term improvements.

Construction for the longer-term vision for the waterfront may tentatively begin in 2022 but not before the SFMTA completes planning and design, an environmental review and the completion of a detailed design.

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