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SoMa to receive city’s first ‘protected intersection’

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Construction begins this week and should be completed by year’s end

With the advent of unfettered ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, as well as an influx of residents who can afford car payments, the city has seen more vehicles take over city streets. And with that comes an uptick in traffic congestion, accidents, and worse. But the reimagining of one worrisome SoMa intersection start a much-needed trend.

The idea of an intersection design wherein pedestrians and cyclists are protected by a buffer from motorists is (but shouldn’t be) a radical one. Billed as a "protected intersection," the area around Ninth and Division (i.e., that dreadful intersection near Fitness SF) will be the first recipient.

According to SFMTA, here’s how it will work:

Protected intersections use a simple design concept to make everyone safer. Under this configuration, features like concrete islands placed at the corners slow turning cars and physically separate people biking and driving. They also position turning drivers at an angle that makes it easier for them to see and yield to people walking and biking crossing their path.

There will also be a better bikeway design "to safely separate people biking and driving as they approach the intersection," as well as "raised crosswalks to slow drivers as they cross them."

This particular intersection is notorious for major accidents between cyclists and drivers, some of them fatal. So much so that it’s listed on the High-Injury Network (i.e., the 12 percent of streets where 70 percent of severe and fatal crashes occur).

Urban planner Nick Falbo’s video explains more: