SF’s Great Highway Will Stay Car-Free on Weekends Until 2025
Thanks to SF Chronicle for sharing the news that San Francisco’s Great Highway will remain car-free on weekends for the next three years through December 31, 2025 after the Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday.
The Great Highway stretches 3.8 miles down San Francisco’s western coast, bordering Ocean Beach. Every weekend and holiday, between Lincoln Way and Sloat Boulevard, the four-lane-wide roadway transforms into a completely vehicle-free promenade where the public can enjoy its scenic views.
The west side roadway’s configuration will remain car-free from noon Friday to 6 a.m. Monday through at least 2025. During this trial period, San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department and Municipal Transportation Agency will study both the traffic levels and the use by pedestrians and cyclists before recommending a permanent plan.
In April 2020, the city temporarily closed the Great Highway to cars in an effort to prioritize safe, outdoor recreation during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then in August 2021, an agreement between Mar and Mayor London Breed was reached to modify the highway’s closure to apply between Fridays at noon to Mondays at 6 a.m., and on holidays as well. “Keeping the Great Highway as a promenade on weekends and holidays when it’s used the most while allowing car access on weekdays when motorists use it the most, is a win-win solution,” said Mar.
When serving the public as a promenade, the Great Highway is an enhanced outdoor space that offers safe access to the beachfront for families, people with mobility assistance, joggers, skateboarders, and more. From April 2020 to May 2022, the scenic recreational hub has seen more than 2 million visitors.
The Great Highway’s new pilot is just one of many recommended potential changes of the Ocean Beach Master Plan developed by the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, or SPUR. It is part of a managed retreat from the coastline in response to rising sea levels.
As sea level rise becomes a growing concern of the changing climate’s effects on San Francisco, the city is already arranging plans, according to the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project; including the permanent closure of the Great Highway extension south of Sloat Avenue, due to significant erosion impacts. The project will close this section of the Great Highway to cars indefinitely, and replace it with proposed improvements such as a new multi-use trail.
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