Transbay Howard Streetscape Improvement Project
Howard Street between 4th Street and The Embarcadero features a variety of commercial retail, restaurants, bars and night clubs, light industrial space, and hotels. In addition to the vibrant businesses, this section also contains a high number of high-rise residential and office buildings. Howard Street is a vital transportation corridor that provides access to destinations like Moscone Center and The Embarcadero, access to regional transportation connections including the Transbay Terminal and the Ferry Building, and serves as a well-traveled east-west bike route for the neighborhood.
In Winter 2020, through the SFMTA’s Vision Zero Quick-Build effort, the SFMTA implemented traffic safety improvements along Howard Street between 3rd Street and the Embarcadero. The Howard Street Quick-Build Project included removing a lane of traffic to accommodate a parking-protected bike lane, daylighting intersections and driveways to improve intersection visibility, and various road striping changes to increase pedestrian safety, among other safety improvements. The Transbay Howard Streetscape Improvement Project builds off of these quick-build improvements and the San Francisco Planning Department’s South Downtown Design + Activation (Soda) Plan to implement permanent, high-quality streetscape infrastructure along Howard Street between 4th Street and the Embarcadero to improve the safety and travel experience of all road users.
Once the Transbay Howard Streetscape Improvement Project and the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project are approved, designed, and implemented, people traveling by bike will have a continuous and protected bike lane on Howard Street in both directions from The Embarcadero to 11th Street, nearly two miles. In addition to the bikeway, this project will also implement other pedestrian, greening, and transit improvements throughout the corridor.
Howard Street is intersected by several high-injury network streets, the 13% of city streets that account for over 75% of serious injuries and fatalities.
- In the five years spanning 2016-2020, there were over 90 reported collisions along Howard Street from 4th Street to the Embarcadero that resulted in injury or fatality.
- The top three collision causes along Howard Street are failure of drivers to yield to pedestrians at a crosswalk, speeding, and unsafe turns or lane changes.
- 44% of the collisions (41 collisions) on the project corridor between 2016 and 2020 involved a pedestrian, and 13% of the collisions (12 collisions) involved a bicyclist. There was one pedestrian fatality on the project corridor in 2019.
The Transbay Howard Streetscape Improvement Project supports San Francisco's Vision Zero commitment of eliminating all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries.
A number of safety measures have been implemented along Howard Street as a part of the Howard Street Quick-Build Project. This early effort stemmed from the SFMTA’s Vision Zero Quick-Build Program, which was created as a result of a mayoral directive to install faster and low-cost treatments to reduce collisions and improve traffic safety.
Recent improvements include:
- A westbound parking-protected bikeway from The Embarcadero to 3rd Street to improve bicycle safety.
- Daylighting intersections and driveways to improve intersection visibility.
- More yellow loading zones throughout the corridor based on outreach with businesses.
- Transit boarding islands throughout the corridor for Muni and Golden Gate Transit.
- Advanced limit lines and updating crosswalks to continental crosswalks at all intersections that were not already high visibility.
- A traffic lane reduction to redistribute roadway space for all road users.
- Traffic signal retiming to provide pedestrians a head start and more time to cross the street overall.
- A bike signal at 3rd Street and Howard Street to help separate out traffic movements at the intersection.
Many of the proposed changes include making permanent the changes from the Howard Street Quick-Build Project. These proposed changes include:
- Permanent streetscape updates to Howard Street from 4th Street to The Embarcadero.
- Lane reduction to accommodate a bi-directional parking-protected bike lane.
- Traffic signal changes to increase pedestrian safety.
- Adjusting the size and placement of loading zones.
- Potential turn restrictions.
These proposals will be discussed in more detail as the project develops with more community feedback.