SFMTA’s slow streets are full steam ahead

Oct. 8, 2020
The full network of approved Slow Streets is expected to be built out by the end of October.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors ruled last week against four California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) appeals that were delaying Slow Streets, temporary emergency transit-only lanes, bike lanes and emergency street closures.

Within 12 hours of the board’s decision, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) says crews were back out in full force to implement these critical initiatives that help keep San Francisco moving during the pandemic.

The board ruled unanimously that these temporary projects are deemed critical to the city’s emergency response efforts, preventing a further delay.

Implementation of new Slow Streets was put on hold while the agency waited for the appeals hearings, giving crews the opportunity to focus on filling in the signage gaps and repairing existing Slow Streets to improve the network.

Now, crews are bringing more Slow Streets to connect the city. These improvements are needed to move about in these unusual times. The Slow Streets are welcoming, accessible and allow for physical distance for people who want to travel on foot, bicycle, wheelchair, scooter, skateboard or other forms of micro-mobility in San Francisco. Slow Streets attract users of the full array of neighborhood demographics—including children, older adults, people with disabilities and people of color. 

After the hearing, new Slow Streets were installed on Clay and Noe streets and Pacific and Tompkins avenues, bringing the current total to 20 Slow Streets corridors and 38 miles of Slow Streets. 

Plans are underway to continue expanding the Slow Streets network, with new Slow Streets scheduled for implementation this week on 20th Street between San Bruno and Pennsylvania avenues, Arkansas between 23rd and 17th streets, Duncan between Guerrero and Sanchez streets and Minnesota between Mariposa and 22nd streets. The full network of approved Slow Streets is expected to be built out by the end of October. Implementation of the additional Slow Streets corridors is currently being planned with input from neighborhoods, community groups and elected officials.

SFMTA is also always taking suggestions for new Slow Streets. Good candidates for Slow Streets are lower-traffic residential streets, without large hills, connecting neighbors to essential services in the absence of Muni service. Suggested corridors will be screened for feasibility and access conflicts, and the agency says it aims to create Slow Streets throughout the city. 

SFMTA says Slow Streets are for essential trips, not neighborhood gathering points. As required by the public health ordinance, everyone should bring their required face covering and maintain proper physical distance from people outside their households. To make sure Slow Streets are being used properly, staff are continuously monitoring this program for its effectiveness.