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Folks for Polk: Community building safer streets
The campaign to transform Polk Street into a safer and more inviting street for all has remained very active in great part thanks to the dynamic community group Folks for Polk. Folks for Polk has been busy leveraging tech solutions to reach a larger number of neighbors for their input to create a Polk Street for everyone. A month ago, they took civic outreach to a new level by hosting planners from the SFMTA and SF Planning Department in the first ever Facebook Q&A with a City agency. They’ve also adapted StreetView Comments, an interactive form of gathering public input, for Polk Street, permitting anyone to give feedback. The goal for a robust transformative pilot along the whole length of Polk Street remains alive thanks to community groups like FFP.
Polk Street has one of the highest concentrations of pedestrian and bicycle injury collisions in San Francisco. In a street where the vast majority of people walk, bike or take transit, safety improvements are long overdue.
The SFMTA recently held an open house to discuss their preferred alternative for Polk Street. The draft preferred alternative creates two distinct segments along Polk Street which will receive different levels of infrastructure improvements. While their proposed alternative does incorporate certain positive elements, it misses the goal of having a continuous, separated bikeway in both directions that can be used safely by everyone.
Now is the time to let City leaders know that public safety should never be traded for convenience. Only a transformative change on Polk Street will provide people walking and biking the safety they deserve. Here’s how you can add your voice to make an impact today:
Send a Letter of Support Today
Do you want to see smooth pavement, a continuous separated bikeway, greener sidewalks and safer pedestrian crossings on Polk Street? The SFMTA is in the middle of the community planning process and needs to hear that you support for a transformative Polk Street Improvement Project. The SF Bicycle Coalition is also urging the city to implement a pilot project demonstrating concepts from the community planning process so everyone can experience how these changes will work. Scroll below for details on the actual proposals (contact Chema@sfbike.org if you have any questions) and send in a support letter today:
You can use the text below as a guide, and email
The Real Polk Street
The SFMTA completed a Polk Street intercept study and asked how people came to Polk Street and how much they spend. The results reflect what other studies have shown in cities across the county - people who walk, bike, and take the bus spend more money over time than people who drive. In fact 80% of people shopping on Polk Street come by foot, bike or bus - and spend four times as much money per week compared to people who drive to Polk Street. Download the SFMTA's full report here(pdf).
About one person walking and one person biking is involved in a collision on Polk Street every single month. The SFMTA has spent a full year gathering community input on proposals to address this safety concern, but plans may have hit a snag last week. Read our story about what happened at the Middle Polk Street Neighborhood Association meeting on March 18 here: Will the SFMTA address Polk Street Safety?
Join Your Neighbors to Improve Polk Street
The SFMTA hosted two Open Houses in 2012 to gather community input and have presented design options to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety on Polk Street. You can download the SFMTA's presentation here or visit the SFMTA's Polk Street page for more information.
The SF Bicycle Coalition is committed to working with Polk Street neighbors and merchants to improve Polk Street for biking and walking and ensure it thrives as a local commercial corridor. We've gone door-to-door to the over 200 businesses multiple times since 2012 and have passed out fliers promoting the SFMTA's community meetings. In addition we've reached out to business and neighborhood leaders before every community meeting to ensure they are aware of the community process.
We recognize there are different viewpoints on how to improve Polk Street and we at the SF Bicycle Coalition want to encourage healthy dialogue among all parties. Please continue to shop and dine at all businesses on Polk Street - we want to see a healthy and thriving business corridor on Polk Street and thank you for doing your part to relieve congestion, free up parking spaces for those who really need it and create a more livable community by shopping and commuting by bicycle. When you shop, please let any Polk Street business owner or worker know about why improved biking and walking on Polk Street matters to you.
Polk Street connects thousands of San Franciscans to work, school, the waterfront and thriving commercial corridors from Market Street to the Bay. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has a vision for a street with a separated bikeway, calmed traffic and improved intersections to the street making it safer for the large numbers of people walking and biking to the local businesses, shops and restaurants.
The majority of residents living near Polk Street do not have cars. Shopping on this street does not require parking, but there are many people who bike, walk, and take the bus. There have been numerous crashes on Polk Street and Polk Street is the only north-south routefor the growing number of people biking in the neighborhood. The SF Bicycle Coalition is interested in hearing your thoughts about the options for improving Polk Street. If you live near Polk or ride it often, please contact Chema Hernández Gil, Community Organizer at the SF Bicycle Coalition (email@example.com) for ways you can get involved in improving Polk Street.
For more than a year, the SF Bicycle Coalition has been working with the city and all the neighborhood groups with an interest in the Polk Street Improvement Project (Lower Polk Neighbors, Middle Polk Neighbors, Polk Street Merchant Association, and Russian Hill Neighbors). We are surprised to see some misinformation about the project and potential impacts to parking being spread. Here are the facts:
Survey of biking on Polk StreetThe SF Bicycle Coalition asked people to fill out a survey about biking on Polk Street and about the rendering shown above. 220 people filled out the survey and here is what they said:
Which factors make your bike rides on Polk Street unsafe or uncomfortable, or make you bike less often than you'd like? (top 5 responses below):
When looking at the rendering at the top of this page, which of the following features do you like best? (top 5 responses below):
Information about the 220 survey respondents:
Growth of bicycling on Polk StreetFrom 2006 to 2011 biking on Polk Street has grown dramatically, according to SFMTA bike counts (SFMTA 2011 Bicycle Count Report, pdf). Annual counts indicate a 79% growth in biking at McAllister and Polk Street and a 66% growth at Polk and Sutter. Polk Street is an essential north-south connector routes for people biking in San Francisco. Polk Street has been approved by the city as the official bike route, preferred due to topography and transit priority on other parallel streets. Polk Street also connects to the Civic Center BART for many people on bikes and is a key route to access Fort Mason, the Marina and waterfront areas from the central city. Increasingly, people are biking and walking on Polk Street to visit the growing number of restaurants, shops, gyms, and bars on this corridor. Polk Street traverses many distinct neighborhoods, all easily accessible by bike from many parts of the city. Businesses continue to request on-street bike corrals, sidewalk bike racks and parklets to meet the demand of more people biking and walking to this area.
The SF Bicycle Coalition has been urging the city to repave to improve biking and walking on Polk Street for years and you won't want to miss this opportunity to help make Polk Street safer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be on our Polk Street mailing list and get regular updates about this project.
Thanks to Woods-Bagot for their generous work in creating the Polk Street image above. For more information, please contact:
Chema Hernández Gil