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Great Streets Program

A street from a low to the ground perspective

Streets make up approximately 25 percent of San Francisco’s land area, more space than is found in the city’s parks. While improvements to the driving surface are important to moving people safely and efficiently, so is the quality of the sidewalk area for pedestrians. As one of the Bay Area’s oldest cities, San Francisco’s infrastructure has not been upgraded to accommodate increased street usage by pedestrians and bicyclists. San Francisco must modernize street design to completely incorporate the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists, and people with disabilities as well as car and transit traffic. Each neighborhood in San Francisco is unique; streetscape improvements include a range of safety and greening features customized for that particular environment—maximizing the use of public space.

In 2005, the Great Streets Program was established to improve neighborhood streets across the city by demonstrating best practices in design and the value of landscaping, lighting and pedestrian safety. These projects are funded through a multi-year federal transportation bill called the Safe Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA) and other federal and state grants. A streetscape improvement project is coordinated through mult- city agenices and the community in consultation with The Better Streets Plan, The Bicycle Plan, The Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), and many other exsiting plans and programs. A project of the Great Streets Program can include several elements:

  • Sidewalk extension – Increase the usable sidewalk space for pedestrians and greening

  • Bulb-out – shorten the street crossing distance and provide visibility for pedestrian safety

  • Crosswalk treatment – Highlight pedestrian crossing areas for pedestrian safety

  • Pedestrian countdown signals/lighting – Install pedestrian countdown signals and pedestrian upgrade lighting for energy efficiency and safety

  • Utility Undergrounding—Remove visible utility overhead service wires and poles and install conduits underground to connect services to homes

  • Street tree planting – Provide traffic calming and ecological benefits

  • Roadway median expansion and/or planting – provide traffic calming and ecological benefits

  • Road lighting– Improve and upgrade street lighting for safety and energy efficiency

  • Bicycle improvements – Bicycle lanes, bicycle racks or other amenities to improve bicycle conditions

  • Public art elements – Create a sense of place, interest, and neighborhood identity

  • Site furnishings – Provide resting areas, bicycle racks, trash receptacles

  • Stormwater elements (Low Impact Design) – Improve drainage and reduce flooding

  • Streetscape improvement projects


The 2011 Road Repair and Street Safety Bond will provide funding to implement other citywide streetscape improvements such as pedestrian countdown signals and lighting, sidewalk extension, bulb-outs, bicycle improvements, treeplanting and landscaping.