“Be Nice, Look Twice” isn’t as nice as M-Ocean View line going underground

Twenty-one pedestrians were hit and killed last year in San Francisco and Mayor Ed Lee’s “Be Nice, Look Twice” Campaign is among the most useless things he’s done during his time in office. People just aren’t that nice and a simple campaign cannot change their state of mind.

Nineteenth Avenue is six lanes wide and a stretch of U.S. Highway 1. Traffic roars through its busier intersections — Stonestown Galleria and SF State — next to the sluggish M train. On the other side of town, the SFMTA is spending nearly $1.6 billion on the Central Subway and down by SF State, city planners are proposing a 19th Avenue subway. This is a great idea, both for public transit users and motorists.

The 19th Avenue subway for the M-Ocean View line, which carries around 27,000 riders every day, would run from St. Francis Circle to Parkmerced, where it would cross Junipero Serra Boulevard and rejoin the M’s current route on Randolph Street.

The value of a 19th Avenue subway cannot be overstated. With the new underground route’s proposed stations at Ocean Avenue, Stonestown and SF State, the subway will be a huge improvement for a city grappling with so many pedestrian deaths that former mayor Gavin Newsom called a “public health crisis.”

Finding a solution that contributes to reducing pedestrian deaths in our chaotic city should be reason enough to endorse this proposition. If not, there are other convincing reasons.

Commutes will be sped up immeasurably, both for motorists on 19th Avenue and for subway riders who will no longer have to wait in a train that has to deal with traffic, careless drivers, traffic laws and constantly stopping at red lights. As a result, reliability will improve and alleviate the painfully slow stretch between West Portal and Ocean View.

The state of transit on 19th Avenue is in poor shape and expanding the city’s subway tube could solve that problem. But what about the funding? What about the SFMTA’s skimpy transit budget being poured into the Central Subway? The projected budget for the project is $520 to $780 million, not even half of what the city is spending on the Central Subway. Competition for transit funds in San Francisco is fierce but SF State promised to invest $1.8 million for a campus station and Parkmerced developers would be obligated to kick in funding as well.

San Francisco’s dysfunction in city government is notorious but the 19th Avenue project would be completed by 2022; compared to the 2030 date projected for the Central Subway, even with its head start.

With extra room on 19th Avenue the city could widen lanes for motorists, expand the sidewalks for pedestrians and even place a much needed bike lane along the University campus. No one should have to dodge cyclists, who are forced to bike on the sidewalk to avoid being hit by a reckless speeding driver, when walking between Trader Joe’s and campus.

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