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The future of the Great Walkway is far from certain

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What happened Tuesday

Over the course of six hours on Tuesday, San Franciscans went to the mat for and against the idea of an Upper Great Highway that’s for people, not vehicles.

I was proud and amazed by all the 135 people who called into the SFCTA meeting to make powerful public comments in support of a permanent, 24/7, car-free Upper Great Highway. From moms to ministers to medical providers, people shared so many reasons why this oceanside open space can’t go away.

Unfortunately, Tuesday’s meeting made it clear that the future of the ‘Great Walkway’ is far from certain.

What was at play was a report being presented by SFCTA staff. The Great Highway Concepts Evaluation Report includes analysis of various options for the Great Highway long-term, plus looks at related traffic safety, delay, and routing challenges. It also recommends either a full 24/7 car-free promenade (Concept 3), or a promenade that’s for people on the oceanside and a one-way throughway for vehicles on the other (Concept 5).

For the SFCTA Commissioners (who are the same as our Board of Supervisors), the task was to review and accept the report as part of the official public process. But whether that would happen became increasingly unclear. While almost every Supervisor shared genuine appreciation for the car-free Great Highway, only a few Supervisors spoke up for a bold vision for this space. A few Supervisors shared that they will only support a compromise. Read the San Francisco Chronicle article.

What’s next

If you have walked the car-free Upper Great Highway, it’s painful to imagine a compromise as you watch people of every age enjoying this space with only the sound of the waves in the background. Especially when we also know that the leading Vision Zero cities worldwide have significant amounts of car-free and low-traffic spaces.

So Walk SF will keep pushing for a permanent, 24/7, car-free Great Walkway. We will keep growing the movement of people who feel the same. Because that’s how we’ll win.

So if you haven’t signed the petition yet in support of a car-free Upper Great Highway, do so now – and share it with friends and neighbors. This is how we’re tallying support and organizing supporters with our partners in the Great Highway Park Initiative.

I also hope you’ll check out and share this gorgeous photo album from the car-free Upper Great Highway.

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