SFMTA Eyes Solutions to Fulton Street Safety Issues

By Emily Rhodes

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is in the planning phase of a project to improve safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians on Fulton Street. Segments of Fulton are located on San Francisco’s High Injury Network, according to the SFMTA website. These segments include the section from Sixth to 11th avenues and from 17th to 29th avenues. 

“Prior studies, such as the Richmond District Strategy and Golden Gate Park Edges Study, have found that Fulton Street fails to provide a comfortable and safe experience for people walking,” the SFMTA website states.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to improve access between Golden Gate Park and the Richmond District,” SFMTA spokeswoman Anna Harkman said. “Today Fulton can be a barrier due to frequent speeding. We hope to identify improvements which will make crossing Fulton safer for Richmond District residents.”

The Fulton Street Safety Project began with a community survey in the fall of 2019. More than 1,000 residents responded to the multilingual survey. The SFMTA is reviewing the feedback to develop proposals, which will be shared at a community open house in late February. The open house will also be an opportunity for community members to offer more feedback in order to help refine the project. 

The planning study will finalize recommendations in the spring, and implementation will begin sometime after that. 

“We hope that we will be able to implement some of the elements of the project as quick-build shortly after project approval, but some elements may require additional time for design and construction,” Harkman said. 

Between January 2014 and June 2019 there were 230 injury collisions on Fulton Street between Stanyan and La Playa streets, including 54 collisions involving a bicyclist or pedestrian. Of those 54 collisions. 17 resulted in severe injuries, including one fatality.

The intersections with the most collisions are Fulton at Arguello Boulevard  and Park Presidio Boulevard at Eighth Avenue, according to the SFMTA. 

Wendy Washtien, who has lived off of Fulton Street for 19 years, said she prefers to cross Fulton at a traffic light when she is walking, as she is aware that some drivers tend to speed down Fulton. However, she had questions about the benefits of making Fulton more bike friendly.

“To put a bike lane in would so greatly reduce bus times that I would think that would be counterproductive to the flow of traffic,” Washtien said.

While designs for a bike lane have not been specified, Washtien was skeptical about how the project would make Fulton safer for bikes given that it is a main thoroughfare for cars and buses. 

Muni buses that run along Fulton are the 5-Fulton and the 5R-Fulton Rapid routes.   

“I noticed that there’s never any sign that says bike lane one block over on Cabrillo,” Washtien said. “If you have foreigners coming up Fulton because they’re trying to go to the park, they have no idea there’s a bike lane one block over that might be useful.”

While tourists may not be aware of the safer bike route on Cabrillo, most local cyclists use Cabrillo or JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park to travel east to west just south of Fulton. There are multiple north-south bike routes that traverse Fulton Street, including Arguello Boulevard, Eighth and 34th avenues. 

“Fulton is an important transit and vehicle route for accessing downtown San Francisco and we are working hard to balance the needs of all road users,” Harkman said. 

Harkman does not anticipate that this project would have a significant impact on Golden Gate Park traffic and said that Fulton will remain an important route for accessing the park by car.

Funding for the project comes from a grant of Proposition K Local Transportation Sales Tax Funds provided by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA). It was sponsored by SF Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer in her role as a SFCTA commissioner.

For more information, visit http://www.sfmta.com/projects/fulton-street-safety-and-transit-project.

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