Following in Oakland’s footsteps, San Francisco finally heeded calls from advocates to launch a Slow Streets Program that will give residents extra space to physically distance themselves when outside their homes.
Both Mayor London Breed and The City’s transit chief Jeffrey Tumlin recognize that due to Muni’s reduced service, more residents are walking and biking to their destinations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Breed said in a statement Tuesday:
“While traffic congestion has dropped, it is still difficult for people to maintain physical distance on many sidewalks. The most important thing that people can do right now is to remain inside as much as possible. But when they do have to go outside for essential trips, this program will help people keep six feet of distance from others.”
Breed also recognized the work Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf did to establish a similar program, which was announced about two weeks ago.
The City has initially identified 12 streets where residents will more easily be able to walk or jog in the street.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said the streets will not be entirely closed as local vehicle access will still be permitted. Residents will have access to their driveways and there will be no parking changes.
Pedestrians in the street will not have the right-of-way over motorists, the transit agency said.
Commenting on the SFMTA’s commitment to giving residents space they need to practice physical distancing, Tumlin said in a statement:
“The purpose of Slow Streets is to accomplish those goals, while managing traffic speeds and creating a safe network for essential walk and bike travel while transit service levels are reduced.”
Transit officials said the streets chosen have lower traffic volumes and connect to essential services.
Beginning this week, the transit agency said they will roll out two to three Slow Street corridors per week. Signage and traffic cones will be installed in those areas.
Both the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Walk San Francisco, who have advocated for full closure of some streets, tweeted in support of The City’s Slow Streets Program.