A full 16 so-called Slow Streets became permanent after a Tuesday night SFMTA board vote, though a dozen others will lose their Slow Street status, and six hours of public comment furor swayed the board to keep the Richmond’s Lake Street a Slow Street.
The Slow Streets party is over for more than a dozen Slow Streets that were adopted shortly into the pandemic, and turned those streets into bicyclist and pedestrian wonderlands. But the Slow Streets party is now permanent for 16 other Slow Streets. After Mayor London Breed started publicly bellyaching about the Slow Streets program in August, the SFMTA started a torturously “Slow” process for determining which of those streets would be returned to normal, and which would remain Slow Streets. They finally rendered their verdict in a Tuesday night vote, and the Chronicle reports that 16 Slow Streets have been made permanent.
Moving SF - Slow Streets are here to stay! Last night, the SFMTA Board of Directors unanimously approved a permanent Slow Streets Program for SF. 16 corridors are included, and more will be added in the future. https://t.co/uk1HFQHIIu— SFMTA (@SFMTA_Muni) December 7, 2022
This was largely a pro forma vote, as the SFMTA board was almost certain to simply go along with whatever their staff had recommended. But there was one gigantic exception. As Hoodline reported this week, SFMTA staff refused to make a recommendation on Lake Street in the Inner Richmond District, saying that “community feedback on this Slow Street was so divided.” Indeed, rival Friends of Slow Lake Street and Open Lake Street factions have been duking it put online and in person for months.
Tonight at 10:31 p.m., the SFMTA Board, in a historic decision, declared Slow Lake Street to be a permanent part of San Francisco’s new Slow Streets network. It also lowered the goals to 15 mph and 1,000 cars a day. pic.twitter.com/N1h5WzPLsV— Friends of Slow Lake Street ❤️ (@SlowLakeStreet) December 7, 2022
But the Chronicle reports that “The board on Tuesday night also decided to add Lake Street to the Slow Street program — from 28th Avenue to Arguello Boulevard.” That paper notes that “The fight over Lake Street has been particularly bitter with both sides lobbying city officials and organizing for many months.”
Here’s a map of your 16 now-permanent Slow Streets, with those streets indicated with a purple line. If you’d prefer a detailed bullet-point list, SFMTA has a list of the permanent Slow Streets.
Was there six freaking hours of public comment, with more than 300 people commenting? There sure was! The public comment was largely dominated by people arguing for or against Lake Street in particular being a Slow Street. And as you see above, the factions came dressed in their matching t-shirts and in some cases homemade hats.
According to KGO, one anti-Slow Street commenter remarked that under the Slow Streets system, Lake Street "feels like a January 6th environment."
A lovely morning for biking Slow Lake Street. 🚲🚲🚲🚲🚲 pic.twitter.com/gRKravDRVq— jjinsf (@jjinsf) October 10, 2021
Does this look like a “January 6th environment” to you? Either way, after all the drama Lake Street will remain a Slow Street. Though the way things have gone in 2022, don’t be surprised if someone starts up a ballot measure campaign to strip that portion of Lake Street of its Slow Street status.
Related: Is Mayor Breed Trying to Finish Off SF’s Slow Streets? Recent Developments Raise Questions [SFist]
Image: @SlowLakeStreet via Twitter