Traffic Diverters: Streets for People, Not for Traffic

How can streets truly prioritize people biking and walking? One simple, low-cost and effective method that we are excited to see come to San Francisco is the traffic diverter. This treatment employs turn restrictions and physical barriers to stop vehicles from entering neighborhood streets. Expect to see one later this month at the intersection of Fell and Scott on the Wiggle and in future plans for the Richmond District on Eighth Avenue at both Balboa and Anza streets.

Traffic diverters can come in many forms. Berkeley employs larger planters along their bicycle boulevards. Portland uses large dirt-filled concrete drums to offer people biking and walking quiet, calm streets with reduced traffic. And Oakland uses concrete curbs, requiring people driving to slow down and turn instead of continuing on at high speeds through neighborhood streets. The new traffic diverter coming to Scott and Fell streets uses a curb extension and signage to divert vehicle traffic and reduce the crossing distance for people walking.

Image courtesy of the SFMTA.

By the end of September, that curb extension traffic diverter is scheduled for completion at the southwest corner of Scott and Fell. This will restrict people driving Fell from turning left onto Scott and also require people driving south on Scott to turn onto Fell instead of continuing straight.
Why traffic diverters are beneficial:

  • Reduces shortcut and cut through traffic: Diverters redirect traffic away from residential streets and onto thoroughfares.
  • Reduces traffic speed: Traffic diverters also narrow the road, which reduces crossing distances for people walking while also reducing vehicle speeds
  • Gives people on bikes a calm route with fewer vehicles: While diverters filter out larger vehicle traffic, they do allow people biking and walking to pass through.
  • Traffic diverters are inexpensive and easily implemented: Planters, cones or signs can be used as traffic diverters. These are effective yet can be removed by the city very quickly and without much expense.

As a member-powered advocacy organization, we know that block by block improvements are driven by our members. If you want to see more bike-friendly streets with traffic diverters and more, become a member today and join us in advocating for the best street designs to improve your ride in San Francisco. (With a new Dutch-style step-through being raffled off to one lucky new or renewing member, there has never been a better time to join that today!)

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