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SFMTA Announces Traffic Calming Measures and Campaign for Safer Left-Turns

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency today announced the installation of traffic calming measures at seven intersections to encourage driver awareness of left-hand turns. The engineering interventions, part of October’s Pedestrian Safety Month, build on the city’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities. The guiding principle of Vision Zero is that traffic deaths are preventable; streets should be safe, no matter where you go or how you get there.

The seven intersections incorporate visual cues such as left-turn guide bumps, painted safety zones and delineators to encourage reduced speed and extra caution when making left-turns. In 2019, almost 40% of crashes in San Francisco involved a left- turning vehicle. That is why SFMTA is piloting this engineering solution.

“We’re keeping up our efforts to reduce traffic fatalities in our city and make our streets safe,” said Mayor London Breed. “As we continue reopening and people start moving around the city more, we know we’re going to see traffic increase – and with that comes a higher risk of crashes and traffic-related injuries and fatalities. That’s why the SFMTA has installed traffic-calming measures to reduce the speed of left turns at especially dangerous intersections, which will help keep our community safer.”

Most of the Left-Turn Traffic Calming project is on the Vision Zero High Injury Network, the 13% of streets where more than 75% of severe and fatal crashes occur. They are also in a Communities of Concern – vulnerable populations the SF County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) has identified as having high levels of minority or low-income households as well as seniors, people who have limited English proficiency and people who have disabilities.

The Left-Turn Traffic Calming Project has been installed at:

  • 10th St. and Folsom St.
  • Broadway and Montgomery St.
  • Gough St. and Sacramento St.
  • Ellis St. and Leavenworth St.
  • Leavenworth St. and Sutter St.
  • 17th Ave. and Lincoln Way
  • 18th Ave. and Lincoln Way

In addition to making the physical changes to the roadway, the SFMTA is overseeing a targeted left-turn driver awareness campaign citywide. Partnering with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and behavioral science consultants, the impact of the engineering changes and campaign on driver behavior will be evaluated and reported on next summer.

Through the “Safety – It’s Your Turn” campaign, drivers citywide are encouraged to “Slow Down, Turn Square and Stay Aware” for safer turns through the following actions.

  • Slow down—a safe turn is 5 mph
  • Turn square—make your turn 90 degrees
  • Stay aware—always look for people walking and on bikes before turning

“We expect that the initial focus on these seven intersections will encourage residents throughout the city to approach left-hand turns with greater awareness and caution,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA director of transportation. “Announcing this initiative during Pedestrian Safety Month reinforces these efforts. We believe that the streets can be made safer for all – especially the most vulnerable – by helping drivers understand that little changes can make a big difference in saving lives.”

As part of the educational outreach efforts, a pre-campaign assessment identified eight “micro behaviors” that are considered factors in making improper left-hand turns. They include speeding, cutting the corner and aggressive responses to yellow lights.

“Supporting measures and actions that reduce the likelihood of injury or death to pedestrians is critical to our development as a city and safe community,” said President Norman Yee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Chair of the TA’s Vision Zero subcommittee. “We encourage residents and visitors to learn more about ways we can each do our part to guarantee safer streets for all.”

San Francisco’s efforts to install left-turn traffic calming treatments are inspired by the work done by the cities of New York and Portland. Those cities, like San Francisco, are part of the international Vision Zero movement, which is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility for all. San Francisco was among the first cities to adopt Vision Zero, and the city is one of 10 Vision Zero “Focus Cities” in the United States.

“Reducing driver speeding is essential for eliminating traffic deaths. Getting left-turn traffic calming installed in San Francisco has been one of our top priorities. We know at intersections in New York City with left-turn traffic calming, pedestrian injuries have decreased by 20%. We are excited that the SFMTA has implemented these critical left-turn traffic calming treatments and believe evaluation results will confirm that these are an important tool to achieve Vision Zero,” said Jodie Medeiros, Executive Director of Walk SF.

Traffic deaths are preventable, which is also a focus of Pedestrian Safety Month. Each year, the majority of traffic fatalities in San Francisco are of people walking or biking. Vision Zero San Francisco commits city agencies to build better and safer streets, educate the public on traffic safety and adopt policy changes that save lives.

For more information, visit the project website.