San Francisco promises new ‘quick build strategy' to create safer streets after 10 deaths

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There’s a renewed push for safer San Francisco streets after 10 people died so far this year in traffic accidents.

In addition, a pedestrian was struck by a car on Tuesday at 9 p.m. at  37th Avenue and Fulton Street and taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. It's a scenario playing out all too often on the city's streets.

"You've got to watch out for yourself. You can't assume anyone is going to stop, or that they know it's a one-way or two-way [street], or that they know where they're going," said Lauren Hudson from a city sidewalk. 

Accidents like these are pushing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to make changes as soon as possible.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Director Tom Maguire introduced a “quick build strategy” as part of Vision Zero, a plan to end traffic fatalities in the city. Quick builds gets the job done faster than major capital projects and it’s not as permanent. That lets officials see what works and doesn’t work and they can make adjustments as needed.

"As soon as we identify a safety issue we want to solve, we'll get in there quickly," said Maguire. "We use things like paint and plastic posts." 

The quick build projects hope to make residents and visitors feel more comfortable. Improvements include posts and new paint along bike lanes – making crosswalks more visible and adjusting walk signals. And staying safe is a real concern for people who walk and bike around the city.

“It’s tricky,” said Mike Cunningham. “There’s low visibility with certain crosswalks. Putting some lights and adding brightness could be improved. You have to really make sure you’re cognizant of street lights.” 

Many improvement projects will still take years to complete. MTA said it can and will install bike paths that are protected from vehicle traffic on Townsend Street south of Market Street. It's one of 10 projects that MTA vows to complete by the end of the year. 

Over the last nine months, SFMTA worked on quick build projects on three different streets and the goal is to complete 10 more projects by the end of the year.

Maguire said he wants all high-injury streets fixed by 2024. He said he’ll make presentations every 90 days at board meetings to bring updates and come up with new solutions.