San Francisco's highly-debated 'Slow Streets' program to continue. But what does it actually mean?

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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
SF's highly debated program 'Slow Streets' program to continue
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Huge crowds took to San Francisco City Hall Tuesday, some wanting 'Slow Streets' opened to normal traffic at normal speeds, others pushing for the continuation of the program.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Late Tuesday night SFMTA board members voted to continue the 'Slow Streets' program in San Francisco.

Many neighborhood streets in San Francisco were marked as "closed to through traffic" during the pandemic. Most of those streets will continue to be 'Slow Streets' going forward.

SFMTA board members clarified the rules saying 'Slow Streets' are not closed to traffic, they are used by all and help lower the speed of vehicles.

Tuesday night, huge crowds took to San Francisco City Hall Tuesday, some wanting those streets opened to normal traffic at normal speeds, others pushing for the continuation of the program.

"Please keep all 'Slow Streets' permanent," said one woman during public comment.

"My name is Dillon Gump and I'm 13 years old and live in the Richmond District. Please keep Lake and Clay slow, my friends and I ride our bikes to and from school," said Gump.

During the meeting board members clarified that 'Slow Streets' are not closed streets, which is different than signage that has been used.

RELATED: SF to close 13 miles of city streets to allow cyclists, people on foot more room to socially distance

"Slow streets are open to all users of the roads, drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, tricyclists, dog walkers, etc., but all users need to go slow," said one official.

"We're not closing a street, we're slowing a street," said Gwyneth Borden who is chair of the SFMTA.

The main street in question during this SFMTA meeting was Lake street, which has been part of the Slow Street program, and goes east and west just south of the Presidio.

Some say streets like Lake shouldn't be under a Slow Street program.

"I want Lake Street open," said one man.

RELATED: Alameda makes room for social distancing by closing some streets to drivers

"Pedestrians do not need to walk in the street. Lake street is one half block from more than a thousand acres of trails and parks in The Presidio," said another.

Traffic is allowed on 'Slow Streets' like Lake but Duncan Kennedy says he lives in the area, is involved with car pools on Lake for his kids, and there have been problems.

"On a daily basis receiving a lot of awful stares, people purposely walking in front of me, tapping on my car creating a very hostile atmosphere," said Kennedy.

"Feels like a Jan 6th environment," said another man.

The SFMTA is moving forward with the "Slow Street' program for most of the streets that have been involved in the past. They also will included Lake Street to that program too but the board clarified several times Tuesday evening that this does not mean the slow streets are closed to vehicles. They have had problems with residents trying to police other residents and hopeful that that stops.

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