At the end of 2022 the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) voted to make 16 of the City’s 31 “slow streets” permanent. Introduced during the early days of the COVID pandemic, these roads are intended to create an unhurried transit experience, improve pedestrian safety, nurture community interactions, and prioritize active, carbon-neutral transport modes, like biking or skating. While cars aren’t prohibited from these streets, they’re slowed through a variety of techniques, including installation of barrel-shaped succulent planters and other speed obstacles.
Roads included in the updated traffic management program include 22nd Street, from Bryant Street to Chattanooga Avenue, and Minnesota Street, from Mariposa to 22nd streets. Donovan Lacy, Vice President of the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association and the Green Benefit District, advocated for decelerating Minnesota Street.
“The idea of a slow street is about making a safe space for everyone,” he said.
Dogpatch initially emerged as an industrial zone, designed for trucks and heavy equipment, with wide, often unfettered, streets. Over the past two decades the neighborhood has become increasingly residential and family oriented.
“Most recently, with what we’ve seen on JFK, the population has a strong desire to make streets safer, and this is a way how,” Lacy asserted. “It’s something that folks yearn for.”
The newly established slow street on 22nd Street will replace 20th Street, due to that street “not meeting vehicle volume standards,” according to the SFMTA. To qualify as a Slow Street, roads must lack conflicts with other street uses, be supported by their surrounding communities, and provide vital connections to the citywide active transportation network.
Arkansas Street, Mariposa Street, and all slow streets located South-of-Market weren’t recommended for permanent inclusion. These roadways are instead being evaluated as part of a connected citywide bicycle network. However, SFMTA is “committed to maintaining the existing traffic calming and local access restrictions” on Lapu Lapu, Rizal, Tandang Sora, Bonifacio, and Mabini Streets to encourage “community activation.”
SFMTA will continue to gather and analyze data on Slow Streets, and make recommendations for further corridor expansions, in part based on opinions garnered through community outreach. SFMTA also plans to implement “Play Streets” into the Slow Streets program, in which the permit process is streamlined for full block closures, offering an easier way for neighborhoods to host events and gatherings.
The Slow Streets program is funded in part by Proposition K Sales Tax dollars, provided by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Originally approved by voters in the late-1980s to help pay for the transportation projects, Proposition K imposes a one-half cent sales tax.