Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wide streets in San Francisco

Noe St
I noticed some curiosities while walking around town one day. There are streets with head-in parking where you would normally expect parallel parking. I have noticed this on some of the steeper streets, and I assume that it is used there to avoid parking brake failure. But on a flat, level street, it seemed out of place. I also noticed that there were little parks on the corners occasionally: the sidewalk juts out into the street, a few trees and benches are placed for enjoyment.

Originally, I thought this was a somewhat strange way to plan a street: why not reclaim that space in the first place and make the street narrower? Then I realized that the decision to add the park and do head-in parking was probably made long after the original street was laid out. This seems to be a local effort to convert an arterial street into a friendlier walking street. Instead of 5-6 lanes, cut it down to 2 traffic lanes and 2 head-in parking lanes. Add some parks on the corners which also function as pedestrian crossing helpers. It almost fools you into thinking this is a small street. And it might be the only practical solution. On the other hand, just after I took this picture, someone raced up and passed another car while honking. So the message hasn't quite gotten through to everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, what you see in the Duboce Triangle was a 1970s pilot project for traffic calming that never got the chance to spread to the rest of the city.

    Noe was platted in the 1860s as part of the Mission District's standard grid, with a total 80 foot right of way and 19-foot sidewalks for north-south streets. At some point in the 20th century the sidewalks were cut back to make room for wider traffic lanes. Then in 1973-1974 the neighborhood was the first "Protected Residential Area" in a plan that was eventually intended to spread to most of the city.

    The building lines remained the same in each era. There is a little more about the Protected Residential Areas in Appleyard's Livable Streets.

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