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Traffic changes planned at Page, Haight streets pit safety advocates against merchants

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Shelby L. Bell/Fk
Extensive traffic mitigation changes will be implemented on Page and Haight streets in San Francisco, Calif. as a result of a 12-month pilot program approved by supervisors Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Safety advocates support the pending changes but merchants are concerned with impact to businesses.

A stretch of Page Street from Webster Street to Octavia Boulevard is about to get a makeover in an effort to prevent motorists from treating the street as a path to the freeway.

Neighbors and residents spoke about the traffic congestion at Tuesday’s San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors regular meeting. The group took issue with motorists are using Page to turn onto Octavia, which connects to U.S. Highway 101 on-ramp.

Directors approved a 12-month pilot program that will force motorists to make turns at specific Page Street intersections and restricts eastbound traffic from entering Page at Webster. The restriction will extend to westbound traffic and left turns at Page and Octavia. Motorists will only be allowed to make a right turn at Page and Octavia.

The pilot program will additionally address bike safety improvements, including installation of a contra-flow protected bike lane between Octavia and Laguna streets and the addition of a westbound bike lane between Octavia and Webster streets.

Traffic changes will also be implemented on Haight Street between Webster and Buchanan streets that will convert one lane of traffic into a right-turn only and Muni lane Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

About 20 parking spaces will be removed as part of the pilot project, with up to nine spaces removed from Haight Street during restricted hours.

Sarah Buecher, a Page Street resident, said she witnesses the chaos of vehicles, pedestrian s and bicyclists trying to get through the street.

Buecher said:

“As a mother of high-schooler and middle-schooler who both ride their bikes through the neighborhood and The City, I view the current situation as unsafe and untenable.”

Buecher said the traffic situation got so bad that a neighbor created a sign on April Fool’s Day to encourage motorists to take a breath and not honk their horns, which seemed to work “for a little while.”

Residents and merchants are concerned about motorists causing additional congestion on Haight Street.

Owner of Two Jacks Nik’s Place on Haight, Nikki Cooper, expressed concern about the new parking restrictions on Haight, saying it threatens her business.

Cooper described the treatment of small businesses by the SFMTA as “deplorable,” saying they gave little notice to merchants and residents prior to approving the project.

“The merchants and residents of Haight Street did not know about this until September.”

SFMTA staff will be keeping a tabs on the pilot project. SFMTA staff will evaluate the project after four months and will monitor Haight Street traffic.

Director Cheryl Brinkman said:

“…We do, unfortunately when we make these changes, we create winner and loser streets. Right now, people are concerned rightly that Haight is going to become a loser street with more car traffic…”

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Community Organizer Kristen Leckie said that the project is long overdue after a decade of planning and meetings.

Leckie said:

“It’s time we finally end this excruciating slow planning process and get this in the ground now.”

The SFMTA plans implement the project in early 2020.

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