S.F. Trashes Outreach, Kills Slow Lake St.

Advocates accuse Mayor London Breed of cowing to a rich, vocal minority in abandoning Slow Lake Street

Streets should be for all people, not just motorists. Photo: Michael Chen
Streets should be for all people, not just motorists. Photo: Michael Chen

San Francisco will dismantle Slow Lake Street, even though their own outreach shows over eighty percent of respondents want cut-through traffic to continue to be banned. The move is also a total violation of the city’s Vision Zero pledge, said advocates.

The news dropped during a meeting between advocates and city officials just before the 4th of July weekend. From SF Gate‘s story, which ran Friday:

San Francisco public transit officials left Richmond District residents perplexed last week after announcing their decision to potentially allow [through] vehicle traffic on a street formerly designated to remain free of cut-through traffic.

It’s unclear why the city made this decision after it worked so hard to confirm that a clear majority of people in the area wanted to keep the street unavailable for cut-through traffic. “It’s been over two years since Slow Lake street was created, and during that time there have been at least four rounds of public input in some form or another, including official surveys, public hearings, and virtual open houses,” said Luke Bornheimer, an advocate with Community Spaces S.F. and a member of Friends of Slow Lake.

After each round, a vocal minority claimed the data gathered wasn’t legit, added Bornheimer. And yet somehow city officials talked about a lack of “consensus.” In reality, Bornheimer blames feckless leadership from City Hall.

As previously reported, the city had developed plans to install concrete diverters to limit through-traffic. Currently, the street has temporary signs and sandbags, as seen below:

Lake Street, S.F. Photo: SFMTA
Lake Street, S.F. Photo: SFMTA

But now even those will be removed.

Streetsblog has requests for comment out to Walk San Francisco, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and the Mayor’s office.

Meanwhile, advocates had hoped Breed’s recent experience in Paris, a city that is rapidly moving away from automobile dominance, would inspire San Francisco’s mayor.

Alas, that didn’t happen. And traffic deaths and serious injuries in San Francisco just keep getting worse because the city signs pledges and makes promises but then backs off nearly all concrete action to make streets safer.

“Mayor Breed went to Paris and rode bikes with Mayor Anne Hidalgo,” said Bornheimer, which he told Streetsblog highlights the difference between the Parisian mayor–who is serious about Vision Zero and reducing her city’s effect on global warming–and San Francisco’s mayor, who backs off as soon as things get contentious. “If Mayor Breed expected people to take a prohibition on cut-through traffic lying down, she was deceiving herself.”

If you’re thinking perhaps Mayor Hidalgo didn’t have to deal with the same kind of push-back from angry motorists that one finds in San Francisco, think again.

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