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San Francisco Debuts First Protected Intersection in the City

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mayor Ed Lee, in partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and San Francisco Public Works, announced today the completion of San Francisco’s first “protected intersection” at 9th and Division streets.


“The first ‘protected intersection’ is a step towards making San Francisco streets safer and accomplishing our Vision Zero goal of reaching zero traffic deaths,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “This project is an example of how we can target our engineering investments and construct innovative, high-quality infrastructure that will create safer streets for all San Franciscans.”


Protected intersections use simple design concepts to make everyone safer: slower turning speeds, better visibility of people walking and biking, and increased separation between different modes of travel. Under this configuration, features such as concrete islands placed at the corners slow turning cars and physically separate people biking and driving. They also position turning drivers at an angle that makes it easier for them to see and yield to people walking and biking crossing their path. The previous design allowed for high-speed right turns for people driving, which led to crashes with people on bikes.


Division and 9th had a clear need for this type of safety improvement. The intersection is on the city’s High-Injury Network –  the 12 percent of streets where 70 percent of severe and fatal crashes happen – and is a hot spot for collisions between turning drivers and bicyclists. More than 200 bicyclists pass through this intersection in the peak hour, making up 25 percent of all traffic heading in that direction in the morning rush hour.


“We’re using safety data and analysis to target our safety improvements and address the most frequent and harmful crashes,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation, Ed Reiskin. “Many of the crashes at 9th and Division were right turning drivers colliding with people biking. We saw an opportunity to use strategic design tools to solve the problem. This new protected intersection will take the chaos out of the intersection so people can safely cross the street.”


Several elements went into the protected intersection design at 9th and Division to make the intersection safer:

  • Concrete islands at corners to help those driving make safer, slower turns
  • Better bikeway design to safely separate people biking and driving as they approach the intersection
  • Raised crosswalks to slow drivers as they cross them
  • A new island on the north side of the intersection shortens and improves crossings for pedestrians


“These changes advance much-needed safety improvements for people who walk and bike along the busy corridor,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “Smart planning and thoughtful design, layered with the city’s ongoing commitment to Vision Zero, benefit everyone moving through the intersection.”


With construction already happening at the intersection, there was an opportunity to upgrade adjacent blocks of 9th and Division with other safety improvements. Additional enhancements now complete include:

  • 9th Street, between Division and Brannan streets: new sidewalk, conversion of traffic flow from one-way to two-way, and 90-degree angled parking on the west side to calm traffic
  • The 13th/Division Street parking-protected bikeway has been expanded between Potrero Avenue and 9th Street in both directions.


"San Francisco's first protected intersection shows that city planners are learning from infrastructure already in place in other parts of our country and the world," said Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "I want to applaud the folks at the SFMTA for embracing new ideas and experimenting with how they can be adapted to the streets of San Francisco. We look forward to hearing from people who bike about how this new infrastructure works and using that feedback to inform the design of future projects."


Vision Zero ( – San Francisco adopted Vision Zero as a policy in 2014, committing to build better and safer streets, educate the public on traffic safety, enforce traffic laws, and adopt policy changes that save lives. The result of this collaborative, citywide effort is safer, more livable streets as San Francisco works towards the Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024.