SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the Department of Public Works held a ceremony for the first protected intersection in the city of San Francisco on Wednesday, December 21.

The new protected intersection is located at 9th and Division Streets in the SoMa district. SFMTA director, Ed Reiskin and SF Mayor Edwin M. Lee attended the ceremony. Reiskin has been aware of the dangers that have occurred in the area, telling the crowd, “This is an area where people have been seriously injured and killed.”

The development of San Francisco’s first protected intersection is in alignment with Mayor Lee’s Vision Zero, an initiative seeking to reduce the amount of traffic deaths to zero. A protected intersection provides safety for bicyclists while they are moving through streets. This protection is achieved through raised crosswalks within streets. It works by creating a barrier between vehicles and cyclists, as well as forcing drivers to slow down at rounded curbs. It was first developed by Dutch intersection designs. There is also an island on the north side of the intersection to allow for a shorter travel distance for pedestrians.

According the city’s High Injury Network, the location of Division and 9th proved to be a high risk zone. The intersection has been responsible for 70 percent of severe to fatal crashes, as well as a place where over 200 bicyclists ride through resulting in 25 percent of all cumulative traffic during the city’s rush hour.

“Many of the crashes at 9th and Division were right turning drivers colliding with people biking. We saw an opportunity to use strategic design tools to solve the problem,” said Reiskin.

The SFMTA capitalized on the construction that was already being done in this area. Ninth Street between Division and Brannan has added a new sidewalk, and a 90-degree angled parking area. The 13th/Division Street now has now been expanded to reach Potrero Avenue and 9th Street in both directions.

A diagram of the newly constructed protected intersections.
A diagram of the newly constructed protected intersections.

San Francisco’s Bicycle Coalition Director, Brian Wiedenmeier— who’s group played a role in bringing the protected intersections to San Francisco was complimentary of the SFMTA.

“I want to applaud the folks at the SFMTA for embracing new ideas and experimenting with how they can be adapted to the streets of San Francisco,” Wiedenmeier said. “We look forward to hearing from people who bike about how this new infrastructure works and using that feedback to inform the design of future projects.”