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Eyes on the Slow Street: Shotwell Signage Improvements

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Multiple SFMTA crews were out replacing and upgrading "Slow Streets" signs on Shotwell in the Mission, from 14th to Cesar Chavez Thursday morning. From an SFMTA statement on social media:

First up: New signage! The previous signs were prototypes. These are meant to last: They’re affixed to the roadway, highway-grade, and reflective for better visibility at night. They’re going in closer to the center of the street so they can’t be missed.

SFMTA is also installing plastic diverters at major intersections, such as 20th seen here:

A diverter at Shotwell and 17th prevents through traffic and left turns onto Shotwell
A diverter at Shotwell and 20th prevents through traffic and left turns onto Shotwell

SFMTA is boasting about its upgraded installations on Shotwell and other streets that will be made permanently off-limits to through traffic, post-pandemic. Streetsblog is, of course, thrilled to see streets being returned to the people of the neighborhood. And the passage of A.B. 773 will help things move even faster.

"I’m happy to see the latest changes," wrote Livable City's Tom Radulovich, who lives in the area, in an email to Streetsblog. "Shotwell slow street has been popular with neighbors, and it’s great that SFMTA has taken the next step towards transforming the street. They will complement the speed humps already installed there."

However, Streetsblog was disappointed to see SFMTA crews replacing plastic straws with, well, more plastic straws (sorry, "safe hit posts"). Even if those plastic treatments are better secured, they're still plastic. In fact, the crew at 24th pushed away a locally installed guerrilla planter (see lead image) that would do more to actually stop an errant motorist than what they were replacing it with.

Streetsblog is in no way blaming the crews. They were rightfully moving the planter because it was partially blocking a disabled parking space. It's just ironic.

The crew left the planter next to this parklet across the street
The crew left the planter next to this parklet across the street

The thing is, the motorists who are the most dangerous don't stop because of plastic posts--they run over them. And sometimes they run over people after that. SFMTA could at least switch to concrete-colored posts, such as those used on Doyle in Emeryville, to give motorists the impression they are installing an impenetrable barrier. In Emeryville they even mixed in some old concrete garbage cans they already had in a warehouse, just in case a motorist figured out the other bollards are actually plastic.

That's what a city does when it commits to safety, rather than still worrying that solid posts and objects might cause damage to the cars of errant drivers.

SFMTA needs to up its game and start using concrete--something more akin to what Berkeley uses for its Bicycle Boulevards, as seen below:

A bicycle boulevard in Berkeley, blocked by concrete. Photo: Streetsblog NY/Naparstek
A bicycle boulevard in Berkeley, blocked by concrete. Photo: Streetsblog NY/Naparstek

"They do seem rather tentative, especially compared to what the most progressive cities are doing," added Radulovich. "I hope Shotwell neighbors get a chance to design some truly permanent improvements for the streets."

Because if SFMTA officials are still expecting motorists to voluntarily and universally respect Slow Streets because of some plastic posts, well, just note how many motorists already ignore the law and, well, common decency, by parking in crosswalks and on sidewalks (such as below, seen multiple times, on Shotwell):

Sidewalk parking is still ubiquitous on Shotwell--and everywhere else. Imagine trying to get down this sidewalk in a wheelchair or with a cane.

Streetsblog has reached out to SFMTA to find out if concrete barriers are in the works and will update this post accordingly, but there's certainly no indication as of yet.

Slow Streets signs on Shotwell, drilled into the asphalt more securely, and centered in the street, but still easy to run over.

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