Considering the number of restaurants, bars, and shops in the Mission, it’s surprising how many of the area’s streets remain high-speed thoroughfares. Right now, streets like Bryant, Folsom, Mission, and, worst of all, Cesar Chavez are great for cars in a hurry, but they are inhospitable for commercial and residential use.
However, the city of San Francisco is working on a plan to change all that. The Mission Streetscape Plan (http://www.sf-planning.org/ftp/CDG/CDG_mission_streetscape.htm) proposes changes to the area which should shift the balance back in favor of pedestrians and residents.
The proposed plan includes “traffic calming” changes to streets that get a lot of fast traffic. These design strategies include the addition of green medians, traffic circles, and chicanes – extensions of the sidewalk into the roadway which give the street a more-serpentine appearance. The chicanes can be partnered with vertical parking to increase the number of parking spaces, which will please local stores.
The plan also describes parks and open spaces at key access points to the Mission district. These “gateways” are intended to reinforce the message that drivers are entering a neighborhood, not a racetrack.
Some of the plans changes can already be seen on Valencia street with its widened sidewalks, full bike lanes, and on-street bike parking.
The city has solicited feedback from the community in a number of town-hall meetings over the past few years. It isn’t clear when the next steps will be taken, but there is speculation that work may begin on Bryant Street by the start of 2011.