Mayor Lee Launches Congestion Management Strategy
New Measures to Combat Traffic Congestion & Increase Safety for All Users of City Streets
Mayor Edwin M. Lee today launched the City’s Congestion Management Strategy to improve traffic flow and safety, especially in the South of Market neighborhood where construction and growth remain the highest in the City.
“San Francisco is experiencing unprecedented growth, and as a result, we are seeing increased demand on our streets,” said Mayor Lee. “These new focused measures to combat congestion can help make Muni, taxis, shuttles, bikes, and cars move through the City more smoothly and predictably, and can make the streets safer for everyone, particularly pedestrians. This new strategy will get us to our Vision Zero goal of ending pedestrian fatalities.”
Mayor Lee’s Congestion Management Strategy outlines additional efforts the City could undertake, beyond traditional approaches such as the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation (ISCOTT). These additional efforts include smarter traffic enforcement, better construction permitting, and coordinated efforts through the City’s new Traffic Management Center (TMC).
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) will coordinate rush hour traffic enforcement and traffic management. From 3-6 p.m. on weekdays, SFPD will deploy officers at the City’s most congested intersections and SFMTA will deploy Parking Control Officers (PCOs) at intersections adjacent to those staffed by police officers. SFPD’s Operations Center and SFMTA’s TMC will monitor traffic in real time and work together to adjust deployments if congestion develops elsewhere.
Parking Control Officers will also focus on preventing gridlock by enforcing “blocking the box” violations, which is a strategy that has proved successful based on a Summer 2014 pilot that reduced “blocking the box” by 82 percent at key intersections near the Bay Bridge and Ballpark. SFMTA will enhance double parking enforcement, which causes congestion and makes it difficult to drive, walk, and bike safely on City streets, target PCO deployment on streets with high-ridership Muni buses and heavy traffic flow, and double SFMTA engineering and field staff to ensure that commercial districts have enough loading zones, and to install them quickly where they are lacking. SFMTA will also double staffing in construction inspection to ensure that developers and construction companies comply with the terms of their permits, and do not block any more lanes, bus stops, or parking spaces than they are permitted to.
Over the next two years, additional efforts will focus on data and technology, planning and enforcement. SFMTA will assemble currently available real-time data from traffic cameras and public information cutting-edge public data feeds to establish a monitoring function in its new TMC. By the end of next year, SFMTA will connect the City’s traffic signals to the TMC to allow engineers to diagnose signal problems in real time, fix signals quickly, and manage traffic peaks during rush hours and special events. SFMTA will use its real-time Twitter feed to provide and receive traffic info, just as it currently provides Muni info.
SFMTA will also use new data on traffic flow from Commuter Shuttle Pilot participants, Muni buses, regulated vehicles, and some private sector partners to identify bottlenecks in the traffic and Muni network, and to make better decisions about construction permit stipulations and targeting traffic enforcement resources. SFMTA will make street closure information (e.g., from ISCOTT and Special Traffic Permits) available on datasf.org and work with developers to incorporate that information into mapping and navigation products.
SFMTA and other City agencies will review City’s restrictions on street construction including construction loading during rush hour can reduce traffic impacts without slowing construction. Greater use of variable message signs in advance of and during large street construction projects, and use of detour signs during construction, and greater restrictions on use of public rights-of-way for construction equipment staging can all further reduce the impact of construction on city streets.
“Smart, data-driven, targeted efforts to reduce congestion in San Francisco can make it easier and smoother for people to get around the City,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin. “These efforts will also help us make Muni more reliable and help us reach our long-term goals – to achieve Vision Zero, and to make transit, bicycling, car share, taxi and walking great ways to get around San Francisco.”
SFPD will increase enforcement by increasing Traffic Company staffing, making more solo officers available for traffic control, and SFMTA will pursue legal authority to implement automated (camera-based) safety enforcement, directed at “blocking the box” violations.
Finally, the City remains committed to its long-term strategy to reduce both daily and “non-recurring” traffic congestion by improving the attractiveness of transit, cycling, and walking so that more people chose those modes for more trips; managing demand for private auto trips through policies, planning, design, incentives and information; and achieving Vision Zero, which will make the streets safer for all users and which will reduce delays caused by crashes.
“The San Francisco Police Department is committed to Vision Zero – no pedestrian fatalities related to traffic collisions within 10 years,” said Police Chief Greg Suhr. “To that end, we are adding resources to our traffic enforcement efforts that will further that goal. Crossing a street should never be a ‘life or death’ decision. Together, we can make Vision Zero a reality.”
Last week, Mayor Lee also announced a holiday construction moratorium downtown and on major commercial corridors where 50 percent of the frontage is devoted to business. The routine moratorium reduces disruption and impacts to commercial businesses and shoppers, which began Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27th. Construction projects that impact the roads and traffic at high pedestrian and vehicular corridors stopped between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Contractors will resume normal work and construction hours after the New Year. The moratorium is imposed on a yearly basis by the Municipal Transportation Agency and applies to blocks in the central downtown shopping districts and elsewhere in the City where more than half of its properties are business establishments. Emergencies and urgent matters are excluded from this moratorium.