San Francisco Not Living Up to 'Transit First' Promise

Despite a stated goal of encouraging other modes, the city's streets still overwhelmingly prioritize cars.

1 minute read

September 8, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Muni Public Transit

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Almost a half century after San Francisco first passed its "Transit-First" policy, writes Dan Federman, "less than 5 percent of [the city's] limited road space actually prioritizes transit."

To assess the way San Francisco uses its street space, Federman calculates the lane miles on San Francisco's streets, roughly 5,593.6 lane miles. "In 2019, SFMTA published a blog post saying that the city had painted 43 miles of transit-only lanes. Then in 2021 SFMTA announced that it was attempting to make 20 miles of recently created temporary transit-only lanes permanent," for a total of 63 permanent transit-only lanes. SFMTA has also "declared a goal of creating 45 lane-miles of protected bike lanes by 2021. Let’s give SFMTA the benefit of the doubt and assume that the city achieved its goal."

Federman concludes that "[i]n total, only 210.8 lane-miles prioritize alternatives to travel by private automobile in San Francisco. The remaining 5,382.8 lane-miles of road prioritize cars. In other words, more than 95 percent of our roads prioritizes cars," belying the city's stated goal to "encourage the use of public rights of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit."

Tuesday, August 31, 2021 in Streetsblog San Francisco

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