The SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board recently voted to expand the “Slow Streets” program in San Francisco. More specifically, SFMTA plans to add 14 new thoroughfares for walking and biking to allow people to get outside and still practice social distancing. In particularly congested areas, overcrowded parks have made it impossible for parents to get their children outdoors. Expansion of the Slow Streets program into these congested areas, such as the Tenderloin, will allow families the space that they need to be outside and still observe social distancing.
The new Slow Streets will connect with existing Slow Streets to create a network that allows most San Francisco residents to access essential services and even travel to work via foot or bicycle. The network will remove reliance on public transportation and cars to perform necessary tasks. Although traveling by car seems prudent in the era of COVID-19, it takes up ten times the space per person than walking or biking. If people could safely walk or bike in some areas, car trips of less than one mile or even less than three miles might become unnecessary.
One essential part of the Slow Streets expansion uses space in Golden Gate Park to allow for continuous pathways so families can easily access open space. For children living in congested areas, especially low-income children, reaching safe outdoor areas by foot or bicycle can be crucial.
In addition to the expansion of Slow Streets, SFMTA is actively planning the closure of more streets to allow for additional “Shared Spaces.” This program allows businesses and community organizations to utilize the space to expand economic recovery in light of COVID-19. Expanding options for outdoor dining and activities can be crucial to the livelihood of small businesses.
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