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Creating safe spaces on our streets during Covid-19: principles for San Francisco

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So much has happened since the early weeks of shelter-in-place when we started asking for safe space for social distancing while walking, especially in parts of the city like the Tenderloin where it was urgently needed.

First, SFMTA started to extend sidewalks outside of grocery stores so there was sufficient space for people standing in line. On April 21, Mayor London Breed and SFMTA announced the first phase of Slow Streets.

Soon after we celebrated car-free space on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park and Shelley Drive in McLaren Park. Then earlier this week Mayor Breed announced a program to share public space to support restaurants and local business activities. 

In the midst of all this, Walk San Francisco has been working with our partners at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Livable City to be sure that this flurry of changes on our streets happen in an equitable way that empowers communities plus brings as many benefits as possible. 

I’m deeply grateful that city leaders are actively retooling our streets and public spaces to protect health and safety, as well as to support local businesses, during this time. 

But let’s also consider what our city could and should look like permanently. Car-free JFK Drive, Shelley Drive, and the Great Highway are of course fantastic with or without Covid-19. Streets where people can walk without fear of traffic violence shouldn’t be something we experience for a few months, but always.

So let’s keep building a San Francisco that puts health and safety first everywhere, everyday for people of every age and ability. If you agree, stand with Walk San Francisco and become a member today.