Entire Tenderloin neighborhood could see speed limit drop to 20 mph

The Tenderloin neighborhood in District 6 in San Francisco could see a reduction in the speed limit from 25 to 20 miles per hour as early as April in an effort to improve pedestrian safety and reduce speeding.

City supervisors acting as the county transportation authority board at its Feb. 9 meeting, took a step forward in approving funding for the new speed limit signage Tuesday that would go up throughout the neighborhood.

The allocation of Proposition K funds of over $81,000 for 290 new signs is dependent on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors anticipated vote next month to reduce the speed limit.

The SFMTA said the Tenderloin would be one of the first neighborhoods in The City where the speed limit would be reduced throughout an entire neighborhood. Officials said every single block in the Tenderloin is on The City’s high injury network.

“The Tenderloin experiences far too much traffic violence,” District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney said at the meeting. “It’s an area of our city where people are most likely to be hit by cars.”

Transit officials and pedestrian advocates have said before that a pedestrian’s survival from a traffic crash depends on the speed of the driver.

The state has jurisdiction over speed limits and uses a standard method of rounding the 85th percentile speed, which is the speed at or below at which 85 percent of traffic is moving. Traffic and engineering surveys are done to figure out the speed limit and local authorities use the survey to make adjustments.

Documents from the CTA show that speeds ranged from 20 to 26.4 miles per hour with an average speed of 23.54 miles per hour in the Tenderloin.

In addition to the proposal to reduce the speed limit, the SFMTA announced plans to add “no turn on red” signage at approximately 54 intersections. Funding for the new signage will also come out of Prop. K funds approved at the same meeting and will not require approval from the SFMTA board.

The new “no turn on red” sign will go up sometime in the spring, transit officials said in a blog post.

“We have finally put forward some really important changes that are going to increase the safety for people who live, work and visit here,” Haney said.

Eric Rozell, the pedestrian safety manager for the Tenderloin Community Benefits District, spoke in favor of the reduction speed limit and “no turn on red” signage during public comment. He said the traffic conditions in the Tenderloin are dangerous with drivers treating the neighborhood as highway thoroughfare:

“I strongly believe reducing the speed limit to 20 miles per hour and implementing no turns on reds in the Tenderloin will go a long way to prioritizing residents and community members rather than prioritizing people using our neighborhood as a high speed thoroughfare to travel to locations outside our community.”

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Jerold Chinn

Jerold Chinn

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Award-winning transportation journalist based in San Francisco.