Safe Routes to Transit was a campaign between Walk San Francisco and San Francisco Transit Riders, which aimed to deepen the connections between transit and walkability, and to empower community members to speak up as both pedestrians and transit riders.
Our Safe Routes to Transit Video:
Film students at Youth Art Exchange created this video for Safe Routes to Transit, which uplifts the voices of community members in the Excelsior neighborhood and the need for safer streets and improved public transit. Thanks to YAX for all their hard work and commitment to creating a safer, more vibrant Excelsior!
About the Campaign
Safe Routes to Transit was born out of the need to communicate that walkability is key for transit use. As a result, Walk SF and SF Transit Riders partnered together to educate and mobilize pedestrians and transit riders to advocate for improved city streets and public transit. After all, every transit rider is a pedestrian.
The focus of this campaign wasn’t faster transit, but safer and more convenient access. We wanted to emphasize that transit trips are door to door, not just stop to stop, and prioritizing safer access to transit, improving safety and comfort on the bus, and for all the moments in between is vital for the mobility of everyone, especially populations that don’t drive, such as youth, seniors, and those with disabilities.
Why This Matters
The Excelsior is an identified Muni Equity Strategy neighborhood that has pedestrian safety and public transit improvement plans outlined in the Mission Street Excelsior Safety Project. This project was initially proposed in the fall of 2016, and unfortunately has been delayed for two and a half years, now scheduled to be completed sometime in 2020. This was concerning because the Excelsior is home to two high-injury corridors, the 12% of streets in San Francisco that see a disproportionate 70% of all severe and fatal crashes. One resident was struck in the area and passed away right before the project was introduced. Since then, there have been two more deaths and 25 serious crashes. We knew the longer this project got delayed, the longer residents were placed at risk for serious and fatal injuries.
The 27 Bryant Muni line is included in the Muni Equity Strategy as well and has improvement plans outlined in the 27 Bryant Transit Reliability Project. It also runs along one of San Francisco’s high injury corridors in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which has a higher than average population of senior citizens compared to the city’s overall percentage. We kneww that seniors made up 50% of all pedestrian fatalities, which meant we needed to ensure that their safety was prioritized when trying to access public transit.
Here’s a brief information sheet on some data points related to the Mission Street Excelsior Safety Project and why we decided to promote safer access to public transit.
We had the opportunity to shape what these projects looked like and advocated for the improvements and changes we wanted to see as community stakeholders. Most importantly, we wanted to make sure to uplift community voices and make sure these projects prioritized their needs. Below were strategies we implemented to gather the voices of every day pedestrians and transit riders.
We held five outreach pop-ups within the Mission Street Excelsior Safety Project area to get a sense of how community members traveled throughout the neighborhood, and how they felt about pedestrian safety at major intersections.
Here are a few highlights: Of over 450 unique data points and over 200 people surveyed,
- A significant number of community members felt unsafe crossing at four of the major intersections in the project area.
- Cars turning and speeding were the top factors that made those surveyed feel unsafe.
Walk and Ride Audits
Walk and Ride Audits is a focus group tool to evaluate routes, bus stops, bus ride experience, and pedestrian safety at intersections throughout their neighborhood. Every day pedestrians and riders to get to share discuss their observations directly with us and with planners from SFMTA. These Audits can truly inform street and transit improvements, getting planners to understand the daily challenges pedestrians and riders face while they work to design a better system for us all. We have conducted one each for both the 27 Bryant project and the Mission Street project.
You can access the full audit reports here:
For residents and community members we were unable to meet with in person, we created an online survey that broadened the constituent base. The survey captured the voices of those that lived in the neighborhood, worked in/frequently commuted through the neighborhood, and visitors. The survey asked similar questions to the pop-ups and walk and ride audits we hosted. Here is a report summarizing the responses we received.
Films and Partnering with Youth Art Exchange
We collected community input through films and interviews, which created another avenue to directly bring stakeholder voices to SFMTA. We also partnered with the filmmaking class at Youth Art Exchange, a community-based non-profit in the Outer Mission/Excelsior that offers a variety of art classes free to public high school students. They helped gather voices to create a documentary following pedestrians and transit riders commuting throughout the Outer Mission/Excelsior.
Check out one of the commuter profiles we worked on with Janice, a long time resident of the Outer Mission.
Here are some external resources that highlight the broader movement around walkability and transit.
Contact Us / Get Involved
Have questions, comments, or want to volunteer with us and become an advocate for your community?
Send us an email and we will let you know of any upcoming events along with general updates on the campaign!
Eric Chan – Community Organizer, SF Transit Riders
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To learn more about Walk SF’s work outside of this campaign, visit www.walksf.org.
Walk SF is a non-profit advocacy group aiming to improve city streets and neighborhoods in San Francisco. Walk SF’s vision is to make San Francisco a more livable, walkable city by reclaming streets as safe, shared, public spaces everyone can enjoy.