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The future of the Great Highway must be about the future

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For a year now, the Upper Great Highway from Lincoln to Sloat has been closed to vehicle traffic and open to people of every age and ability to enjoy.

The experience of walking or biking a car-free Great Highway is spectacular, as the thousands of people who use it every day know. It’s like a national park was created overnight. It’s one of the very few places in our city you don’t have to worry about dangerous vehicle traffic.

As the future of the car-free Great Highway is increasingly in question, my plea to all of the decisionmakers is to make your decision about the future.

Climate scientists project sea levels rising at least 6 inches and as much as 12 inches in the Bay Area by 2030. We know that preserving the Great Highway for vehicle traffic is a losing battle against the forces of water, wind, and sand. Preserving the Great Highway for vehicle traffic is a losing battle against the kind of city San Francisco must become.

The only future that’s acceptable for our beloved city is a climate-friendly and child-friendly one, where we have significant healthy, safe, equitable spaces for humans to connect with nature and each other. We have been starved for these spaces for too long.

Five options are on the table for the future of the Great Highway; four of these put vehicles back. What do these four options get us when you think about San Francisco’s future?

As the sea level rises, it’s time for city leaders to raise their sights above the status quo. Energies should instead be put toward making absolutely sure that getting to car-free spaces is easy and accessible – and surrounding streets are incredibly safe, too.

This is our great chance. We can’t blow it. Let’s make the Great Highway’s future about the future.

Walk San Francisco is part of the Great Highway Park Initiative. Sign the petition to add your voice in support of a permanent car-free Great Highway and get key updates on this campaign. Over 4,000 people have signed this petition already, we’re aiming for 5,000 by the end of this month: Earth Month.

Banner image: John Elliott