Mayor Lee: Publicly Commit to SoMa Street Improvements Now

Dear Mayor Lee:

This year was a difficult one for San Francisco’s bicycling community. Four lives were lost while biking — the most in a single year since 2001. Each of these tragedies followed the same deadly pattern: people hit by operators of large vehicles on SoMa’s fast moving and poorly-designed streets.

The urgency could not be greater: the recently-released City Bicycle Count Report shows a dramatic 96% increase in the number of people biking in our city since 2006. SoMa streets, such as Folsom and Townsend, had some of the highest bike counts in the city.

On behalf of the huge and growing number of people biking in SoMa, I repeat our urgent call to take action now to make SoMa streets safer and we are asking for your response.

In the past four months, more than 1,500 of your constituents have also asked you to tame the streets in and around SoMa. Since I first wrote to you in August, yet another San Francisco and SoMa resident, Cheng Jin Lai, was killed by a Muni bus while riding his bike. Other people have been injured, some of them seriously.

To the credit of you and City staff, the recently implemented Folsom Street pilot (between 4th-11th Sts.) is a step in the right direction. It is proof that a simple, affordable solution can improve these serious, persistent problems. But this only improves seven blocks out of hundreds that need immediate improvement in SoMa.

The problem is not solved, and your leadership is needed now more than ever. I’m asking you again to commit to making preventative changes to SoMa streets before anyone else gets hurt or killed. Your leadership is needed to break through the slow slog of bureaucracy to make 2014 a safe year on our streets.

We are counting on you to change the pattern of prioritizing high-speed thoroughfares in SoMa to the detriment of people living and working here, undermining the safety, access, equity and economic development goals of the City.

Mr. Mayor, I ask you to publicly commit  in January to implementing the most crucial and long-standing street safety issues in SoMa in 2014, including the following:

  • Extend the Folsom Street safety pilot — with protected bike lanes — to the Waterfront and replicate it on Howard, 7th, 8th, and 11th Streets.

  • Add protected bikeways and safer crossings on Division and 13th Streets, where Mr. Lai needlessly lost his life.

  • Daylight intersections throughout the area to improve visibility for people biking and walking.

Please do not let another person die or be seriously injured because easily implemented solutions are bogged down, sometimes for decades, due to bureaucratic red tape or lack of leadership. You have the tools and power to tame SoMa streets; please use them now.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this critical issue. On behalf of the broad community of people who live, work, bike and walk in SoMa, we look forward to your response.


Leah Shahum
Executive Director
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

cc: Supervisor Jane Kim
Board of Directors, SF Municipal Transportation Agency
Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Executive Director
Tilly Chang, SFCTA Executive Director

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