Polk Street Improvement Project

Project Overview

Photograph of Polk Street with bus and shared lane markings

The Polk Street Improvement Project seeks to implement aesthetic and safety improvements for all users of Polk Street between McAllister and Union Streets. In accordance with the City’s Transit First policy, improvements will primarily be focused on people who walk, use transit and ride a bicycle along Polk Street. The improvements for Polk Street will include a raised cycletrack, bike lanes, bicycle signals, continental crosswalk striping, red zones at intersections to improve visibility, and corner bulb-out extensions.

Streetscape elements such as pedestrian-scale lighting, street furniture, green planting, parklets, and alley enhancements will also be included. Opportunities to improve sub-standard bus zones will be identified. An analysis to understand the utilization of existing loading zones will highlight areas of poor loading operations and guide staff recommendations to relocate existing or establish new loading zones.

Please view the Documents page and the San Francisco Planning Department's website at http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=3579 to learn more about the March 26, 2014 Open House and most recent project renderings.

Upcoming meetings

No upcoming meetings have been posted

Latest updates

Project Details

Background

This project seeks to implement aesthetic and safety improvements for all users of Polk street between McAllister and Union Streets. In accordance with the City’s Transit First policy, improvements will primarily be focused on people who walk, use transit and ride a bicycle along Polk Street. The project is funded by Proposition B General Obligation Bonds and is part of an overall citywide effort to curb pedestrian and bicycle collisions and to provide a safe north-south connection for people on bicycles. Pedestrian and bicyclist collision and injury data on Polk Street point to a corridor in need of safety improvements for all those who share the road. In fact, the southern portion from Sacramento to McAllister Streets is part of the 5% of San Francisco streets that have more than half of the City's most severe pedestrian collisions.

In addition to increasing safety, other retail-centric districts have experienced unexpected benefits resulting from improved bicycle and pedestrian safety conditions. Similar improvements in other areas have been shown to draw people more visitors and shoppers to city streets:

  • People who visit businesses on foot or by bicycle spend 15% more overall than people who drive, according to seven studies, one of which was done in San Francisco (Clifton, Kelly, et al, “Business Cycles: Catering to the Bicycle Market.” TR News, May-June 2012).
  • In New York, vacancy rates decreased by approximately 50% and sales tax receipts increased by 50% along streets where protected bicycle lanes and streetscape improvements were built (Measuring the Street: New Metrics for 21st Century Streets, NYC Department of Transportation, October 2012).
  • On Valencia Street, 65% of business owners feel that the introduction of bicycle lanes has positively impacted their business (Drennen, Emily, Economic Impacts of Traffic Calming on Small Urban Businesses, Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference, 2004).

Some of the changes being discussed involve adjusting or moving parking. While we understand that this is a sensitive issue for business owners and others in the area, we do believe that it will be possible to achieve the goals of improved safety while retaining parking options that meet the needs of the business and residential community. Each alternative that removes parking includes some replacement parking nearby to help offset parking loss.

The SFMTA will conduct additional outreach to merchants to update them on the project and discuss design details to ensure that local businesses are minimally impacted. Public input will also be sought on additional beautification enhancements. The project will then undergo a full environmental review and ultimately be considered for approval by the SFMTA Board of Directors.  If approved, the project will be designed and implemented as part of the planned repaving of Polk Street in 2015. The SFMTA plans to evaluate the effects of the proposed changes on: safety, bicycle and pedestrian volumes, sales tax receipts, and the overall perception of the street by people who live, work, and travel on Polk Street.

Outreach to Date

  • Thursday, July 25, 2013 - The SFMTA held our final open house to wrap up the planning phase of the project where we discussed the preferred conceptual design and collected feedback.  
  • Saturday, April 27th and Tuesday, April 30th, 2013– The SFMTA held a second open house and invited community members to review several new options for increasing safety and comfort on Polk Street. Staff presented the Options Under Consideration and attendees had the opportunity to complete our Polk Street Preferred Alternatives Survey .

  • Saturday, December 1st and Friday December 7th, 2012 - the SFMTA held an open house and invited community members to review several options for increasing safety and comfort on Polk Street. Staff presented the Polk Street Overview and Design Alternatives (pdf), and attendees had the opportunity to complete our Polk Street Preferred Alternatives Survey.

  • Saturday, October 27, 2012 - local residents and business owners participated in a design workshop to discuss potential improvements to Polk Street in detail. Participants let us know what types of changes might be appropriate for Polk Street and discussed potential trade-off.

  • In October 2012, staff led a number of walking audits along the corridor to discuss both positive existing features and areas in need of improvement.Walking Audit Checklist (pdf).

  • Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 - SFMTA staff held its first public meeting to develop the goals of the project and solicit feedback. 

Questions, comments, or for accessible versions of any of the linked PDFs, please contact Paul Stanis at paul.stanis@sfmta.com or (415) 701-5396.

Streetscape Design

In July, the SFMTA presented a preferred alternative for the aroadway design for Polk Street. The next phase of the project is the development of a streetscape design. The goal of this phase is to develop a streetscape design
that creates a thriving and active corridor, enhances the pedestrian experience, compliments bicycle and transit mobility, and supports commercial activity.  For further information regarding the streetscape design, visit http://polkstreetscape.sfplanning.org.