San Francisco Public Works (SFPW) is one of the largest and most complex municipal operations in the city. It has an active capital projects portfolio of $3 billion and operates 24/7 with a workforce of 1,600 employees that designs and manages construction of civic buildings and streets and cleans the right of way and keeps it free of hazards. Public Works is also responsible for paving streets, repairing bridges and public stairways, and expanding accessibility. In 2019, Civic Edge partnered with Arup and led engagement around a Public Works study about the placement of a barrier between traffic and pedestrians on Market Street.
Civic Edge focused outreach and engagement to community members who use mobility aids to gain feedback on changes to Market Street intended to increase safety for people with disability and impaired vision. Specifically, our team recruited, scheduled and supported individual paid trials for participants to test “detectable surfaces” that give a physical indication of the type of road or thoroughfare they are traveling along. The most commonly used detectable surfaces in San Francisco are yellow rubberized dots seen at intersections. In order to approve a new type of surface, SFPW was required to conduct testing of various materials such as these and present their findings to the state for evaluation.
Our team worked closely with disability advocates, the Mayor’s Office of Disability, and community benefit organizations to recruit candidates to participate in the study. Our team was tasked with finding 30 paid participants with a wide array of mobility needs and devices. In order to fulfill the spots needed, we approached the outreach effort broadly and conducted intake interviews as well as staffed phone lines, emails, and took referrals directly from service providers.