Photo of Amy Graff

The street signs at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets in San Francisco on April 6, 2021.

The street signs at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets in San Francisco on April 6, 2021.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Traffic in San Francisco is about to slow down. 

Mayor London Breed’s office announced Thursday that the city has begun the process to reduce the speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph in seven corridors, taking a major step toward its goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities on city streets by 2024.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is installing signage with the new speed limits starting this week in the areas below. The project is expected to take two to three months to complete.

-24th Street, from Diamond to Chattanooga streets and from Valencia Street to San Bruno Avenue
-Fillmore Street, from Chestnut to Union streets and from Jackson to McAllister streets
-Haight Street, from Stanyan Street to Central Avenue and from Webster to Steiner streets
-Polk Street, from Filbert to Sutter streets
-Ocean Avenue, from Geneva Avenue to Victoria Street and from Junipero Serra Boulevard to 19th Avenue
-San Bruno Avenue, from Silver to Paul avenues
-Valencia Street, from Cesar Chavez to Market streets

The change comes after a new state bill went into effect Jan. 1 allowing cities to lower speed limits to improve safety on streets where at least half of the properties are occupied by shops and restaurants. “Before the passage of this bill, cities across California, including San Francisco, were limited in their ability to adjust local speed limits,” the mayor’s office said. “The California Department of Transportation requires cities to set speed limits at the speed of the car going faster than 85 out of 100 drivers. AB 43 enables cities to determine speed limits for certain corridors based on factors like safety and other street uses.” 

The agency is expected to propose additional corridors where reducing the speed limit could improve safety this spring.

“Speed is the leading cause of serious and fatal crashes in San Francisco, so reducing speeds is the single most effective tool for achieving Vision Zero,” said agency director Jeffrey Tumlin said in a statement. “Just 5 mph can be the difference in whether someone survives a crash. Under AB 43, we’ll be able to set speeds that create safer conditions for all along these key corridors.” 

San Francisco adopted Vision Zero in 2014 with a commitment to building safer streets and adopting policy changes that save lives. Data going back to 2006 shows that on average 30 people — pedestrians, drivers, passengers, cyclists and motorcyclists — die and more than 200 more are seriously injured while traveling on city streets each year. There were 27 deaths in 2021 and 30 in 2020. In November, a vehicle fatally struck a San Francisco public school educator while he was walking in Cow Hollow, steps from the school where he taught. 

Through a pilot program, San Francisco reduced speed limits from 25 mph to 20 mph in the Tenderloin in April. The neighborhood is part of a small percentage of streets — 13% — that account for 75% of severe traffic injury collisions and fatalities, according to the the SFMTA.

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