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After rash of traffic fatalities, 10 ‘quick-build’ safety projects promised

At the rate traffic fatalities are occurring in San Francisco, The City is on its way to surpassing last year’s total of 23 fatalities. So far in 2019, 10 people have lost their lives as traffic fatalities, and it’s only April.

Officials with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are promising to complete 10 “quick-build” safety projects by the end of 2019 after what has been a grim several weeks on city streets.

SFMTA Sustainable Streets Director Tom Maguire gave the transit agency’s Board of Directors a list of streets that his staff will focus on getting safety improvements done in-house without having to go through a contract bidding process:

“There’s no need to wait for a long, drawn-out contracting process to play itself out.”

The list of streets the SFMTA will focus on include Townsend, Fifth, Sixth, Alemany, Brannan, California, Howard, Indiana, Taylor, and Terry Francois.

A quick-build approach could be the addition of safety posts, paint and other tools the transit agency has at its disposable to make improvements.

Maguire said quick-build projects are not as permanent as major capital projects and the transit agency can make changes if necessary:

“We can learn from our mistakes. We can learn what works. What gets negative feedback.”

Mayor London Breed last month had called for the SFMTA to come up with a strategy to get near-term bike and pedestrian improvements on the ground faster.

Charles Deffarges, a senior community organizer with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the 10 quick-build projects were a good start, but said he wanted to see more streets added to the list:

“That list needs to be bigger. These are projects that all have some foundation of design work and outreach done already so that we can move them forward quickly.”

He said streets like on Seventh, Valencia and Market have already had some outreach and design work done and should be added to the quick-build list.

Deffarges also wants to see timelines on when the transit agency plans to complete each quick-build project on the list.

Maguire plans to come back with a proposal next month to the board to modify the transportation code to allow transit planners to pilot things like a pedestrian bulb out or even a bike station dock as part of the outreach process so that the community can see how a safety project element would look like on the street.

He will also come back to the board every 90 days with updates for each quick-build project.

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