After having spent a productive, informative, and fun day in San Francisco with Janice, we feel a lot much knowledgeable about the scope and vision of our project. We had the unique opportunity of engaging firsthand with our project site and various stakeholders who shared their input about and experience with access to Golden Gate Park. Here is a descriptive itinerary of our day:
1. We began by meeting with Supervisor Katy Tang and her aide, Dyanna Quizon. Supervisor Tang was enormously supportive of our project. She gave us many recommendations for how to proceed, including community partners to engage with and steps to take. Specifically, she advised us to analyze the to-from connections to Golden Gate Park with an eye for how to enhance gateway elements and clarify routes while balancing traffic flow with pedestrian safety. Supervisor Tang wants up to take a comprehensive approach to this project that considers implications for both the pedestrian and the driver’s interactions with the street. She encouraged us to talk to Walk SF and other community members--some of whom she will help us contact--so that our approach is community-oriented. As a deliverable, Supervisor Tang asked us to complete a map of Lincoln Way which depicts creative solutions for traffic calming. She will also be attending our final presentation.
4. We traversed Sunset Street and made our way to Lincoln and 34th, where we met Alex Cain, a resident of the Sunset District who has repeatedly reached out to Janice and Supervisor Tang about his anxiety surrounding the Lincoln Way park access points. Alex was thoughtful and concerned; he showed genuine worry about elderly and disabled residents crossing the busy and dangerous Lincoln Way, and he described his own experiences engaging with the road. He really illuminated for us how unsafe this area is for residents, but he also explained how not many people seem to be invested in change or even want to talk about it. Alex was so appreciative of our work on this project, even calling us a “godsend.” This was a special moment to see the potential larger impact of our work, and Alex will be a good contact to follow up with--he eagerly agreed to answer any more future questions. He even already posted about meeting with us on his Facebook blog! Meanwhile, we had the chance to observe his specific concerns about Lincoln Street firsthand: the access points were indeed elusive and extremely hard to access. We tried to cross the street ourselves to get the full experience, and visibility along the crosswalk was difficult at best.
5. We finally made our way back to Hayes Valley via the Panhandle and the Wiggle, albeit very tiredly! We got a taste for biking behind a protected parking lane versus biking in the open street, and even experienced some tricky downhill portions and confusing turn signals. As novice city bikers, it was both exciting and scary at times. After returning our bikes, we debriefed with Janice and talked about our next steps (see below). Janice was amazing today--she spent her whole day with us and set up an incredible itinerary to introduce us to the project. We learned so much from her!
It is safe to say that biking in San Francisco is a difficult task: in today’s tour we became well aware of the task. We also were able to experience firsthand the problem our project is looking to address, the entrance ways, especially on Lincoln Ave. Some of Alex Cain’s major points include:
1. The crosswalks leading up to many entrance ways on Lincoln Ave. are extremely dangerous and have proven so with multiple bike/car related accidents.
● This is a major issue that we must look to address, these crosswalks serve as a main port into the park and are not properly highlighted to promote the safety of bikers and pedestrians alike.
● This is an important issue to address because the average speed of the cars that pass is roughly 40-50mph, residents need a safe place to gather before attempting to cross the street in either direction. Also, if there were a back up of people, as Alex mentioned, there is not a safe place for a lot of people to stand, thus meaning either people are having to stand in the road or rush through the NARROW entrance ways.
3. Overall car and pedestrian awareness of how to cross the street and what to look for.
● Alex informed us that many cases of accidents have occurred simply because the people crossing the double sided street are not aware of how to do so. There is an island in the middle of Lincoln Ave that serves as a median between the lanes of traffic, most people are not aware of the fact that they must stop in the island to make sure the cars coming in the opposite direction do in fact see them.
● Janice pointed out to us that even though the cars on the side from which pedestrians are crossing notice someone is trying to cross and stop, the cars on the other side headed in the opposite direction are not looking at the pedestrian side of the street.
Inside of the park bicycling can also become very difficult, as there are places in which there are no bike lanes, no crosswalks, narrow sidewalks, etc. A primary example Janice highlighted to us was the MLK entrance way did not actually provide a crosswalk for pedestrians inside of the park, to use a crosswalk, it required us to walk down to Lincoln Ave. and cross there.
● There is an obvious “flow” issue for both car traffic and pedestrian traffic that must be addressed in the park to make it a safer place for everyone.
Overall, as a group today we were able to determine that the issue we need to address foremost are the entrances and crosswalks that span across Lincoln Ave. The entrances and platforms before entering the park are simply too small and poorly advertised, and the crosswalks are far too dangerous with little signage for such a large street and port into the park.
Visiting San Francisco today left us well prepared to work on outreach and devising a survey for affiliates of Golden Gate Park and both pedestrian and bicyclist advocacy groups in order to continue gathering information for ameliorating park access. Having met with Supervisor Tang in City Hall, Steve Schweigerdt at the Parks Alliance office, and Alex Cain at the intersection of 34th and Lincoln, we have a reinforced sense of the wealth of resources available to us and the vested interest citizens of San Francisco have in finding creative and effective solutions to the hazardous park entrances.
Our first order of business for the week to follow is to compile a thorough list of the variety of programs mentioned by Janice, Supervisor Tang, and Steve in order to create targeted survey questions for organizers and members willing and available to speak to us over the course of the next two weeks. At Supervisor Tang’s recommendation, we will reach out to Walk SF to better understand the pedestrian experience at the Park entrances. Steve mentioned to us that Park Alliance helps fund over 100 neighborhood improvement projects, many of whom will prove resourceful in better understanding the needs and desires of constituents, and converting those interests into potential plans to which each may successfully contribute.
Janice was magically able to pull together an incredibly thorough excursion into City Hall and Park Alliance, as well as through the city and the park, over the span of only two to three days. Planning another visit in two weeks will allow us to meet other relevant parties, as well as revisit and spend more time in Golden Gate Park. We will create a survey for pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicle operating visitors of the park who have gone through a variety of park entrances. Janice will forward a survey specifically for SFBC members in time for our visit to the SFBC office, so that we may have a more comprehensive impression of their daily or weekly experience along the nine-mile bike route to and through the park.
Our day today also gave us a better grasp of our long-term goals and final deliverable. We have a wealth of notes, photos, and video material for next week’s midterm presentation, and will be able to compile it into a Google Earth Tour to (literally!) map out our progress thus far. With his permission, making use of Alex Cain’s 34th & Lincoln Facebook page posts and videos will also help communicate the urgency of the need for entrance improvements.
Our project will be predominantly two-sided: the first part will be on-the-ground interviews and the second part will be creative design solutions along Lincoln Avenue. This will culminate in a multi-media presentation that showcases both the evidence of our interviews along with our alternative plans shown through maps. We believe that this approach showcases the comprehensive approach we’ve taken to our work and best integrates our various community partners to explain our final design concepts.
- Amy, Laetitia, Eric