A Persistent and Effective Advocate for Safe Streets for All
Walk San Francisco was founded in 1998 by a small group of volunteers who were united by the belief that walking in San Francisco shouldn’t be life-or-death.
Today, Walk SF is known as a tireless advocate in pushing for – and winning – life-saving changes across the city. Powered by our diverse, passionate members, we want nothing less than to make San Francisco the most pedestrian-friendly city in the United States.
Explore some of our biggest wins since our founding, made possible by our supporters.
Walk SF’s advocacy led the City to establish safer speed zones around K-12 public and private schools citywide, which was implemented in 2012. San Francisco was California’s first city to implement 15 MPH school zones on this scale. Today Walk SF works to make it safer for our youngest pedestrians in a variety of ways, including working directly with kids and families as part of the SF Safe Routes to School Partnership.
In 2014, Walk SF was the leading voice in pushing San Francisco to adopt Vision Zero. Vision Zero is a comprehensive, data-based, preventative approach to ending severe and fatal crashes that has been successful worldwide. Much of Walk SF’s work focuses on pushing the City to design and enforce streets at the scale needed to realize Vision Zero.
After two years of advocacy, Walk SF celebrated an important win in 2018 with our partners at Senior & Disability Action and the Transit Justice Group. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) agreed to increase the length of time that pedestrians get when crossing at every light with signal countdowns throughout the city!
Walk SF has always defended sidewalk space. Sidewalks are our refuge as pedestrians. Walk SF has been part of a range of wins including: banning Segways from sidewalks, higher fines for cars parking on the sidewalk, and limiting the testing of sidewalk delivery vehicles. We continue to speak out about threats we face on sidewalks, such as illegal e-scooter riding.
We’re proud to have helped launch the first Sunday Streets events in 2008 with Livable City, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and the YMCA. Today, Sunday Streets are an incredible success story, claiming car-congested streets for community health and transforming them into car-free spaces for all to enjoy – in every corner of the city.
There are thousands more vehicles on our streets today because of Uber and Lyft. In 2019, Walk SF was a leading champion for voters passing Measure D, which establishes a business tax on ride-hailing companies. The estimated $30 million of funds raised annually by the tax will go straight to funding public transportation and fixing the most dangerous streets for people who walk.
For many years, Walk SF has advocated for a Market Street that is welcoming space for people rather than a throughway for vehicles. In January 2020, we celebrated when private vehicle traffic was removed from the Ferry Building to Octavia Boulevard. With many of the city’s most dangerous intersections on Market, we’re eager to see safety fixes started in 2023 be completed.
In April 2021, speed limits on every street in the Tenderloin neighborhood were reduced from 25 MPH to 20MPH – a first in San Francisco for neighborhood-wide speed limit reductions. This was a welcome change for the neighborhood, where every single street is designated as “high-injury” in terms of the number of severe and fatal traffic crashes.
Great news: the new speed limits are making a meaningful difference in speeds. Walk SF is proud to have successfully pushed for this as part of the Tenderloin Traffic Safety Task Force, a coalition of neighborhood and citywide advocates.
There are so many streets in San Francisco that need lower speed limits, but until recently the City had been unable to change them. Walk SF worked to help pass Assembly Bill 43 in 2021, which allows lower speed limits on certain types of streets. In 2022, the City started using its new authority to bring 20 MPH to many commercial streets. Walk SF is pushing for many more.
In 2022, Walk SF played a leading role in winning a permanent ‘JFK Promenade’: 1.5-miles of car-free space in Golden Gate Park and the city’s largest, dedicated space for pedestrians. The most successful Vision Zero cities around the world have significant car-free and low-traffic spaces, and this win is a huge and meaningful step in the right direction for our city.
Like JFK Promenade, the response to the car-free space on the Great Highway created at the beginning of the pandemic has been hugely positive. Walk SF has been advocating for permanence with partners. In December 2022 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.
In response to the pandemic, the City created 47 miles of low-traffic, low-speed ‘Slow Streets.’ Given that speed is the #1 cause of severe and fatal crashes in San Francisco, Walk SF strongly supports Slow Streets as one solution.
Walk SF helped bring together the People’s Slow Streets Coalition, which successfully pushed the SFMTA to adopt specific design standards to keep traffic speeds at 15 MPH and traffic volumes to 1,000 or fewer vehicles with its long-term approach to Slow Streets.
Walk SF advocates for more funding for safe streets improvements in a variety of ways. We have worked on multiple bond measures that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for safe streets over the years.
Most recently in 2023, Walk SF both worked to help pass Measure L – and successfully advocated for Measure L’s ‘expenditure plan’ to increase the funding available for safe streets projects.
Measure L, passed by voters by almost 72% on November 8, 2022, continues San Francisco’s ½ cent sales tax for transportation. This has been a core funding source for public transit (including paratransit) and street projects (including redesigning some of the most dangerous streets) for more than 30 years! Measure L includes more than $200 million specifically for a range of projects to reduce deadly speeds and protect people crossing, plus additional funds for programs to make it safer for kids to walk to school and for neighborhood-specific pedestrian safety improvements.