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Slow Streets & Great Highway wins add to momentum for safe streets

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In November, we celebrated defining wins for safety and the city’s future when voters passed Measures J, L, and N (and soundly defeated Measure I).

But that wasn’t the end of the story for 2022.

Two more wins made it truly a historic year for San Francisco when it comes to safe streets for all.

First, thanks to voices like yours plus the People’s Slow Streets Coalition we helped bring together, there was a major win for Slow Streets!

On December 6, the SFMTA Board of Directors voted (unanimously) to:

  • Make the Slow Streets program permanent. This means that Slow Streets are no longer a pilot started during the pandemic, but a legislated part of our city’s transportation system.
  • Increase the number of permanent Slow Streets, so there are now 16 corridors in total. You can read the full list; we’re thrilled that Lake Street was added to the list during the hearing.
  • Set strong standards for Slow Streets so they’re designed to keep traffic speeds at 15 MPH and traffic volumes to 1,000 or fewer vehicles. This is not what was originally being considered. SFMTA staff had proposed standards that would have allowed more traffic, and at higher speeds – risking the success and safety of Slow Streets.

Our voices were heard, and after a nine hour hearing, the SFMTA Board moved forward with a much bolder vote than what was originally being proposed. The SFMTA Board also asked SFMTA staff to bring forward a list of possible additions to the network, with a goal of 100 miles of a Slow Streets Network.

This is fantastic, and exactly what we’ll be pushing for this year, especially in parts of the city that have been left behind. Our city needs a true citywide network of safe spaces for people to get around.

The second big win was on what we like to call the “Great Walkway.” On December 6, the Board of Supervisors voted 9 to 2 to continue car-free space on the Great Highway on weekends for the next 3 years as a pilot. The Great Walkway has proven a popular, needed, and incredible place for people – one we don’t want to lose. We’re so glad this space is now secure before a public process determining its long-term future occurs.

Each of these wins are big, meaningful steps for our city in prioritizing safety, health, climate, and our most vulnerable when it comes to our streets. Combined with JFK Promenade, 2022 really was quite the year for winning meaningful, transformative changes.

We have a lot to celebrate and be grateful for – especially all the people who were part of these wins, from members like you to city leaders and staff to our friends at partner organizations. Special thanks to the SFMTA team who have worked tirelessly to bring miles of Slow Streets to life, and to the SFMTA Directors who acted boldly at the December vote.

“To combat the climate crisis, we should be prioritizing access to green spaces versus commuting cars that pollute our air through emissions. San Francisco can be the climate leader we need right now.” - Megan Nguyen, an organizer with Sunrise Bay Area, a youth climate change movement