Bold Visions for the Embarcadero Emerge at Public Design Workshops

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Ever since the Embarcadero was uncovered from beneath a freeway more than two decades ago, San Franciscans’ appetite for a more people-friendly waterfront only seems to have grown…

At a series of recent public design workshops this month, groups of attendees were asked to put together a display of how they’d re-allocate street space on the Embarcadero. The main idea was to figure out how to provide a protected bikeway, so that riders of all ages can enjoy the popular waterfront without having to mix it up with either motor vehicles or crowds of pedestrians on the shared sidewalk.

At one of the workshops, two groups suggested that half of the roadway, on the waterfront side, be dedicated primarily to walking and biking, even if it includes a shared-space zone where delivery drivers can move through slowly for loading. Finding a design that allows deliveries to safely co-exist with the bikeway seems to have been the main challenge since the SFMTA launched its redesign process in July

There were a handful of attendees who wanted to see little change to the status quo. Rick Hall, who identified himself as a driver, said he sees “a lot of potential for the [design] process to not be fair and open,” and that the project is symbolic of “San Francisco’s war on cars, that I have awakened to.”

Hall said he sees a ”built-in bias” in the design process towards bikes and people, exemplified by the size of the paper traffic lane templates workshop participants used. Participants could place 10-foot-wide traffic lanes on their design board — not wide enough for buses — while the bikeway could be eight to 12 feet, he said.

If you want to keep your lifestyle alive, you better get out and let the SFMTA and your Supervisors know what you want.

The Supervisors to contact about this plan are:

SFMTA project manager:
You can always send your comments to the Mayor:, Ed Reiskin: and the MTA Board members:

My Suggestions to Improve the Process after Workshop 1

Hi Rick,

Thanks for coming to the workshop and helping our group to have a constructive discussion.  Here at the MTA, we had a discussion on Friday about ways to improve our next workshop.  We hit on a lot of the points you mentioned, including more discussion in advance of the work sessions, better balancing of the groups (we had hoped the numbers on the name tags would have done a better job of this), and variable travel lane widths.  I’ll circulate your comments and we’ll try tighten up what we thought was a pretty productive process.

Thanks, Dan

Dan Provence
Livable Streets Subdivision
SFMTA | Municipal Transportation Agency
Sustainable Streets Division

1 South Van Ness Ave, 7th floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: 415.701.4448

Fax: 415.701.4343


From: Rick
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2014 1:06 AM
To: Provence, Dan
Cc: Oshima, Diane
Subject: Embarcadero Enhancement Project Public Meeting of 11/6/14

I attended the Public Meeting of 11/6/14.  I have a few suggestions to improve the process:

  1. The charts that were in the hallway contain useful information that should be considered during the work sessions. Before breaking into small groups, the attendees should review them and have and have a full group discuss regarding questions and major points. For example the safety chart has specific collision type and location information that should be discussed and used during breakout sessions.  Also prioritizing the needs of commercial buses, tour buses, and other commercial vehicles serving the port should be discussed.
  2. The group I was in benefited from having a balanced mix of pedestrians, bicyclists, tour bus drivers, and auto drivers. Other groups had only single mode representatives. An effort should be made to identify primary mode representatives and have as much of a mix in each group as possible, rather than the random group assignments used.
  3. It would also be useful to have representatives from adjacent port businesses available to inform groups of operational needs.  Traffic engineering should present “capacity” information for lanes, bikeways, and sidewalks in order to better select widths that match needs. These experts should rove among groups to answer questions during the process.
  4. All lane width cut outs  should have variable widths (bicycle cut outs were variable 8-12 ft. , Traffic lanes were fixed at 10 ft. but should have been variable 10-12).  At least 2 of the groups recognized that lanes wider than 10 ft. were needed due to bus and commercial needs, along with driver comfort adjacent to large vehicles.
  5. Post breakout after individual group presentations, there should be time allowed for a full group discussion to allow attendees and staff better assimilate and reconcile the results.
  6. Detailed and summary results and comments turned in from each workshop should be posted on the website at least 4 days prior to the next workshop so that the next set of attendees can benefit from the prior workshop.



FOIA Request for Data From Workshop 1

The SFMTA held a public meeting regarding the Embarcadero Enhancement Project on Nov 6, 2014. The meeting was designated “Workshop #1”

I request a copy of:

  1. The “sign-in sheets” documenting who attended that meeting.
  2. The comments recorded by the facilitator of each group during the working sessions for each of the 5 work groups.
  3. The final “street cross sections” turned in by each group with the “cut outs” placed showing it’s recommendations.
  4. The summary report sheet used by each of the 5 groups in presenting its results to the larger group at the end of the meeting.
  5. The comment sheets turned in by each participant at the end of the meeting.