Slow Streets

Richmond Residents Weigh in on Plans for Future of Lake Street

By Thomas K. Pendergast

While residents living on or near Lake Street await a final decision, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) released survey results on how people in that area feel about ending the Slow Streets program there or making it permanent. 

The agency offered four alternatives in the survey.

The first Slow Street configuration allows for two-way motor vehicle traffic in a center lane and also has two “edge lanes” for passing other cars. The center lane is dedicated to motor vehicles traveling in both directions. Other users like pedestrians and bicyclists have the right-of-way in the edge lanes but motorists can use them as passing lanes. Pedestrians and bicyclists cannot use the center lane. Delivery vehicles can also use the edge lanes.

The second option keeps the Slow Street designation and removes all lane-striping entirely, which, according to the SFMTA “creates ambiguity that forces drivers to drive more carefully.”

The third configuration maintains the existing Slow Street configuration with certain design features added, like speed humps, median delineators, left-turn restrictions, partial diverters, pavement markings and wayfinding signs. 

The fourth “No Build” option ends the Slow Street program altogether and reverts Lake Street to its pre-pandemic status.

The view looking west down Lake Street from Park Presidio Boulevard. Lake Street was turned into a Slow Street during the COVID-19 pandemic, but its future is uncertain as SFMTA weighs four different options. Photo by Thomas K. Pendergast.

The agency says that newly released survey results show 53.4% of Richmond District neighborhood respondents supported at least one of the three Slow Street proposals, but 46.6% support the No Build option. 

Among respondents who live on Lake Street, 83.5% supported at least one of the first three Slow Street proposals and 16.5% supported the No Build option. 

The agency says it reached a total of 5,704 residents with its survey. 

Of the residents who live adjacent to Lake Street, 53.9% supported at least one of the first three Slow Street proposals. The survey used a ranked-choice method for some of their results, as opposed to only choosing one option but none of the others. 

The first option had the highest support among Lake residents at 49.1% in support, but an additional 11.1% of them are not sure or would like more information. People living adjacent to Lake Street, however, rejected this option by 57.3%. Among residents who do not support this option, 63.5% are concerned about the safety of motor vehicle, bike and pedestrian interactions.  

Of the Lake Street residents who support the first option, 75% say they are concerned that the design will not reduce vehicle speed enough, and that vehicles will use the edge lane. 

There was more support for the second option from residents of Lake Street at 67.1% although there was less support among those living adjacent to Lake, at 49.3%. The top concern about it from residents living adjacent to Lake Street was the safety of vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic interactions. Conversely, residents of Lake Street are most concerned that the second option will not reduce vehicle speed enough.

The agency said support for the third option was significantly different between the different geographic groups. 

The most support for option three was from respondents living on Lake Street with it garnering 59.5%. Of those living adjacent to Lake Street, it was supported by 41.5% but opposed by almost half at 49.9%, with 8.6% not sure.

Of respondents who live on Lake Street and support the third option, the most common concern, at 75%, is that the design will not reduce vehicle speed enough. People living adjacent to Lake Street shared the same concern about speed reduction at 57.1%. 

The fourth “No Build” option is not supported by a majority of any of the geographic target groups, according to the agency.  

A majority, 82.2% of Lake Street residents, do not support that option, nor is it supported by 55% of neighbors adjacent to Lake Street. 

The second option received the most overall support with 71.1% making it their first or second choice. Among residents of Lake Street, 79.9% chose it as their first or second choice, while 68.5% of those living adjacent to Lake Street did the same. 

The fourth option, which would have ended the Slow Streets program  altogether, was ranked last by 70.3% of Lake Street residents and 38.3% of those living adjacent to Lake Street.

The agency also noted that 57.2% of those responding to the survey reported a household income of more than $150,000 annually, and 41% said they make $200,000 or more each year. 

For multiple-choice questions, they explained, a respondent could give more than one answer and percentages for those are calculated from the total number of respondents who answered a question. The resulting percentage is more than 100% and reflects the percentage of respondents, not the percentage of answers given, which would add up to 100%.

Other demographic questions in the survey include whether or not school-age children live at home: 41.3% of Lake Street residents said yes and 44.2% living adjacent to Lake Street said the same. 

The most common number of people living in the same household was two for both groups, at 34.2% and 32.9% respectively.

The majority age range was 45-54 years old, at 21.9% and 21.6% respectively.

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