SAN FRANCISCO—On Tuesday, November 3, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will be voting regarding whether or not to close Powell Street to private vehicles.
The plan known as the Powell Street Safety and Improvement Pilot, if passed, for 18 months private vehicles will not be allowed to drive on Powell between Geary and Ellis Streets. The only vehicles that will be allowed on this stretch of road would be Muni, paratransit, taxis, and commercial vehicles. Transportation vehicles like Uber and Lyft will not be allowed as they are considered to be private vehicles.
This initiative is being considered due to the amount of pedestrian traffic that travels down Powell Street. According to the SFMTA, on average, 4,000 pedestrians walk down Powell every hour during peak times and it is not relatively safe. In recent years, there have been 25 collisions resulting in 18 injuries in the region.
The plan is also aimed to reduce the strain that traffic places on cable cars. Due to the increased traffic on Powell Street, cable cars are forced to wait longer and longer. The wait is causing the cable cars to grip the steel cables that run throughout all of San Francisco underground that is beginning to cause the cables to fray. This fraying can be dangerous to those riding the cars or anyone in the vicinity. It was reported in the San Francisco Examiner last month that back in year 2000, the cable were replaced only once every 50 days, but now it has to replaced every 30 days. If something isn’t done, they expect that the number of days between replacements will dwindle.
Right now, the SFMTA is only voting to make this plan temporary, but if all goes according to plan and it seems that this move is not only reducing traffic, but helping to make Powell Street safer for pedestrian and cable cars then it will become permanent.