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San Francisco, CA

Walk Friendly Communities - Gold Level

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Community Highlights

San Francisco is designated as a Gold-level community due to the city's outstanding planning practices, community pedestrian events, and focus on providing a pedestrian friendly environment. Highlights of San Francisco’s application include:

  • San Francisco’s Better Streets Plan is a set of implementation strategies and goals to provide and maintain a better streetscape and pedestrian environment. The Plan “seeks to balance the needs of all street users, with a particular focus on the pedestrian environment and how streets can be used as public space.” The Better Streets Plan carries out the Better Streets Policy of San Francisco’s intent to plan streets for pedestrian-oriented and multi-modal designs.
  • San Francisco’s WalkFirst Project identifies key walking streets throughout the City and develops a criteria to prioritize pedestrian improvements for creating a better walking environment. The WalkFirst Project will have produced citywide map of pedestrian zones, a draft general plan relating to walking, walking strategies for the San Francisco Transportation Plan, concept designs, a criteria for prioritizing pedestrian improvements, and a list of recommended pedestrian improvements.
  • San Francisco holds Sunday Streets events on the second Sunday of every month from April to October. The Sunday Streets event, based off the Colombian Ciclovia, creates a temporary public space by closing the road to motorists and creating a space for pedestrians and bicyclists to recreate, exercise, and socialize with fellow residents. The events for 2010 saw over 20,000 participants.
  • San Francisco has a model pedestrian signaling system. Over 70 percent of all signalized intersections have pedestrian countdown signals. The guidelines for the installation of pedestrian signals state that all signalized intersections without pedestrian signals should be updated and all pedestrian countdown signals should be installed at new signalized intersections. The guidelines also state that Accessible Pedestrian signals should be provided with countdown signals to aid in the crossing of the visually and hearing impaired and intersections should be prioritized for new installations. Currently, 10.5 percent of signalized intersections have accessible pedestrian signals.
  • San Francisco has worked to create a pedestrian friendly sidewalk network. The Department of Public Work’s Sidewalk Inspection and Repair Program evaluate sidewalks each year, make note of those in need of repairs, and work with property owners to make the repairs. Also, the City has a Newsrack Ordinance that was created to help reduce the amount of occupied space on sidewalks associated with free standing news racks and make sidewalks more pedestrian friendly. San Francisco also provides street landscaping to visually enhance the sidewalk to pedestrians.
  • The enforcement activities  of San Francisco emphasize the importance of pedestrian safety. The City conducts crosswalk stings using pedestrian decoys, progressive ticketing, speed feedback signs, and media campaigns on enforcement.
  • San Francisco provides multiple training opportunities for staff and law enforcement on pedestrian safety. Principals, teachers, and school staff participate in an annual professional development day about the Safe Routes to School program and how to incorporate the program’s goals into education lessons. The staff at the Municipal Transportation Agency and Planning Department are provided a multitude of opportunities through trainings, webinars, and conferences to learn about pedestrian safety and apply the information to the City.
  • San Francisco’s streets and public rights-of-way make up fully 25 percent of the City’s land area, more space even than is found in all of the City’s parks. San Francisco’s “Pavement to Parks” looks to reclaim unused public spaces and turn them into temporary parks and public plazas. During the temporary closure of the space, the success of the plazas and parks is evaluated to what changes can be permanently made and what other solutions are possible. Residents and businesses can also apply for parking spaces in front of their properties to be turned into “Parklets,” which are mini parks the length of one or two parking spaces repurposed to be for pedestrians.
  • The San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Program on Health, Equity, and Sustainability developed several Health Impact Assessment tools to provide insight on future pedestrian planning needs. The HIA tools are the Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index (PEQI), the Vehicle-Pedestrian Injury Forecasting Model, and the Healthy Development Measurement Tool’s Safe and Sustainable Transportation Element. Several specific HIAs in San Francisco include the Treasure Island Community Transportation Plan, an HIA of Traffic in Southeastern San Francisco, and an ongoing HIA of Road Pricing.