Streetwise - Out for Walk

More by Frank Dunnigan

Streetwise - Out for a Walk

by Frank Dunnigan
February 2016

Frank Dunnigan, WNP member and columnist. -

As a veteran walker in the western neighborhoods (having first pounded the pavement between my parents’ home at 18th Avenue and Vicente Street and the shopping areas of Taraval Street and West Portal Avenue back in the early 1950s with Mom), it’s always interesting to see how things change. Until recently, the City and County of San Francisco did little more than lay down concrete sidewalks and asphalt pavement, perhaps with an occasional playground drinking fountain, rare bus shelter (Junipero Serra Boulevard and Ocean Avenue) or a wooden bench painted forest-green along Sunset Boulevard. Today, however, municipal government has a vast stockpile of new amenities available for the enjoyment of walkers.

Activating Street Space: Merchandise displays, outdoor café and restaurant seating, street fairs and block parties, parklets, and street vendors.

Water bottle filling station and parcel seating on Clement Street at 3rd Avenue, January 2016. - WNP photo

Greening/Storm water Management: Median plantings, street trees, sidewalk landscaping, parking lane planters, permeable pavement, and others.

Clement Street Fair, Busvan store, sometime in the late 1970s? - Photograph by Dennis O'Rorke

Pedestrian Safety/Traffic Calming: Crosswalks, curb ramps, bulb-outs, chicanes, medians/islands, speed humps, and traffic circles.

Sloat Boulevard at 19th Avenue, Scottish Rite Temple, early 1980s. - Parkside District Improvement Club files

Reclaiming Roadway Space: On-street bicycle parking, living alleys, and pedestrian-only streets/alleys.

Other Streetscape Elements: New items include special sidewalk paving, street lighting, seating, banners, informational kiosks, fixed pedestal news racks, public art, public toilets, transit shelters, trash cans, etc.

While there is always some disagreement about certain aspects of city life, it is generally accepted that most of our neighborhoods have become far more pedestrian-friendly in recent times with these newer items.

Contribute your own stories about western neighborhoods places!

Page launched 20 February 2016.