No matter how you get around San Francisco, you should familiarize yourself with the SFMTA’s new Slow Streets Program. As of April 21 2020, the SFMTA will begin closing certain streets to cars to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
The primary goal of the Slow Streets Program is to provide residents a safe and socially responsible way to get around the city. Not only will these Safe Streets keep pedestrians and bicyclists from traveling near traffic, but they should also help residents keep six feet of distance and minimize COVID-19 transmission.
According to the SFMTA, all of the streets chosen for this program are in residential areas. Eventually, these Slow Streets will have either orange cones or temporary signs that let drivers know they cannot enter.
People who live in these residential areas can still drive on these Slow Streets. Emergency vehicles and delivery trucks could also enter Slow Streets when they must.
The SFTMA will start its Slow Streets Program by closing about eight blocks to car traffic. Road safety experts will analyze traffic trends in the Slow Street zones before moving on with the initiative.
Here is a current list of streets included in the city’s new initiative:
- 17th Street from Church to Guerrero
- 20th Avenue from Lincoln to Ortega
- 22nd Street from Valencia to Chattanooga
- 41st Avenue from Lincoln to Vicente
- Ellis Street from Polk to Leavenworth
- Holloway Avenue from Beverly to Harold
- Kirkham Street from Great Highway to 7th Avenue
- Phelps Street from Oakdale to Evans
- Ortega Street from Great Highway to 14th Avenue
- Page Street from Stanyan to Octavia
- Quesada Avenue from Jennings to Fitch
- Scott Street from Eddy to Page
The first street that’s expected to close to through traffic will be Kirkham Street between Great Highway and 7th Avenue.
It’s important to keep in mind these Slow Streets are only supposed to help pedestrians and bicyclists travel around the city. The SFMTA strictly forbids residents from organizing social gatherings like BBQs on these roadways.
Although the Slow Streets Program should help curb the spread of the coronavirus, local health officials still urge San Franciscans to stay indoors. San Francisco’s stay-at-home order officially ends on May 3, but it might be extended.
San Francisco isn’t the first Bay Area city to ban vehicles from certain streets during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Indeed, Oakland recently closed off almost 75 miles of roadways to help pedestrians and bicyclists keep their distance while running errands.
Of course, nearby Berkeley has a history of blocking roads to car traffic going back at least to the 1970s. Leaders in both Oakland and San Francisco drew inspiration from Berkeley’s initiatives while formulating their own Slow Streets Programs.
For full information on San Francisco’s Slow Streets Program, be sure to visit this official site put together by the SFMTA.