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Embarcadero Enhancement Project Design Workshop Summary (Nov 2014)

In November 2014, the SFMTA held three design workshops for the Embarcadero Enhancement Project. These public events followed an open house held on July 24, 2014.

Below is a summary of the workshops. A formal summary report that includes initial SFMTA feedback regarding workshop concepts and next steps is also newly available under the Documents & Reports tab.

Workshop Purpose

The design workshops were a part of the SFMTA’s continued community outreach for the Embarcadero Enhancement Project. Residents, merchants, travelers and the general public were invited to attend and take part in the development of initial concept designs for a protected bikeway on The Embarcadero by sharing their vision for the waterfront.

Through a facilitated game board exercise, participants were asked to work together to design future cross-sections at specific areas along The Embarcadero, while considering the following questions:

  • What kind of bikeway is desired (one-way or two-way) and in what location?
  • How should the roadway be configured to safely accommodate all users of The Embarcadero?
  • What existing elements of the road might need to be relocated, enhanced, reconsidered, or left unchanged?

Through discussions about desires for reconfiguring the roadway, the project team gained an understanding about participants’ collective values relating to transportation, open space and land use on The Embarcadero. The result of the exercise provided the project team with themes to guide initial efforts in developing conceptual designs for the corridor.

Workshop Format

Participants in the workshops consisted of a diverse group of residents, business owners and advocates. All points-of-view were encouraged in the development of the cross-section exercises.

Though each workshop’s format was identical, each of the three workshops focused on a specific segment of The Embarcadero:

  • November 6 – AT&T Park to Folsom Street
  • November 13 – Folsom Street to Broadway
  • November 20 – Broadway to Fisherman’s Wharf

Each workshop hosted a meet and greet with members of the project team, which was followed by an introductory presentation that provided background about the project and the purpose of the workshop activities.  Participants were encouraged to think creatively as they considered potential designs of the roadway. Since initial concept designs had not been developed, the conversations were big picture in nature and largely without constraints.

The largest portion of the workshops took place at break-out tables where facilitators led design-focused group discussions around specific “pinch points” of the roadway, or the narrowest and most constrained points. Through the discussions, participants considered preferences for future roadway configurations at these pinch points, which were aided by a designed-to-scale game board that represented cross-sections of these pinch points.

Specific locations along the Embarcadero that were considered included portions near the following streets:

  • King Street
  • Townsend Street
  • Folsom Street
  • Broadway
  • Pier 27/Terminal
  • Chestnut Street
  • Brannan Street
  • Folsom Street
  • Market Street
  • Bay Street
  • Pier 39

Workshop Outcomes

Participants expressed a variety of perspectives on addressing safety needs on The Embarcadero, and several themes emerged across all three design workshops:

Design a wide, welcoming bikeway that physical separates pedestrians and bicyclists and supports all types of bicycling.

In order to meet a variety of user needs and to help keep bicycles off the sidewalks and Promenade, the bikeway must accommodate bicyclists of all abilities and confidence levels, including the commercial pedicabs that traverse the length of The Embarcadero.  

Details matter when separating bicycles from cars and pedestrians.

Barriers, planters, landscaping, differentiated grades and street trees between bicycles and other users were frequently emphasized in the groups’ designs. Participant comments also underscored that pedestrians feel safe and separated from fast moving bicyclists and skaters.

Accommodate cargo and passenger loading and unloading zones/lanes.

Although there was variation from location to location, participants stressed the importance of retaining access for business-related loading and unloading activities, including delivery trucks, tour buses and private vehicles.


Some participants suggested incorporating flexible loading zones and traffic lanes for peak hours where necessary.

On-street parking on The Embarcadero is not a high priority.

Many participants consider there to be more than enough car parking provided by parking lots and garages within a short walk of The Embarcadero, and that on-street parking should not be a priority on the corridor due to its already existing space constraints. 

Next Steps

Another set of public workshops will be held in late 2015 / early 2016. The exact timing of the workshops will be announced pending further coordination with the Port of San Francisco's Northern Waterfront Transportation Survey, which is targeting input from existing Port tenants and businesses on their mobility and access needs.

The Embarcadero Enhancement Project team will also start to develop some design alternatives for the entire Embarcadero route based on the direction received during the November design workshops. These design alternatives will be conceptual and high-level in nature, but should start to provide an increasing amount of detail.

Workshop Materials

Workshop materials prepared by the SFMTA can be accessed below.