January 20, 2012

Sustainable Transport Award cities: San Francisco

From integrated transit systems to innovative parking solutions – all of the 2012 Sustainable Transport Award-nominated cities are exemplars in implementing integrated transport solutions. Over the next week, we will cover profiles of the nominated cities – Medellín, San Francisco, Cape Town, and Buenos Aires – culminating in the presentation of the Sustainable Transport Award on January 24 at Transportation Research Board conference in Washington D.C.

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San Francisco is a 2012 Sustainable Transport Award nominee for its implementation of SFPark, an innovative new parking and traffic demand management system, and its “Pavement to Parks” program that reclaims street and parking spaces for public spaces.

SFPark is a a demand-pricing based approach to parking management in commercial districts around the city. Over the past year, the city tested its new parking management system at 7,000 of San Francisco’s 28,800 metered spaces and 12,250 spaces in 15 of 20 city-owned parking garages. Despite much initial concern, the program has been well received in its test neighborhoods, helping local businesses and making the streets more pleasant for the huge populations of transit riders and people on foot and bicycle.

The Pavement to Parks program has created new street plazas and many new parklets (sidewalk platforms that replace car parking spaces) by reclaiming street space in partnerships with businesses and other community groups around the city. The parklets program has captured international attention, prompting a host of other cities to begin their own programs, from New York City to Vancouver.

In addition to these programs, San Francisco has also begun upgrading and expanding its bike network to attract riders of all ages, setting an ambitious target of 20% of all trips by bicycle by 2020. The city is also implementing slow speed zones around all city schools, and is in the process of figuring out how to expand its popular Sunday Streets program to meet the demand for a weekly program.

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