Slow Street on Shotwell. Barrier
A barrier on Shotwell Street. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken April 16, 2021.

In a unanimous vote, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors decided Tuesday that Shotwell Street and three other city streets will remain “Slow Streets,” a pandemic-inspired idea that intends to make 31 San Francisco streets more welcoming to pedestrians than cars.  

The vote makes permanent the “slow streets” on Shotwell Street from Cesar Chavez to 14th streets; Lake Street from 28th to 2nd avenues; Golden Gate Avenue from Masonic Avenue to Broderick Street; and Sanchez Street from 23rd to 30th streets. 

This means the installed signage and barriers that have gone up since April, 2020, on the four streets will remain. In addition, the designs of each street will be updated and those changes will be voted on at a meeting as early as this month.

The vote followed more than 50 public comments, with some 40 commenters supporting the extension of one or several Slow Streets beyond the pandemic and around 15 opposing the extension of one or several. 

The vast majority of commenters who spoke about Shotwell supported keeping it a slow street. That was expected, given survey results that showed that 94 percent of 114 residents living along the corridor favored it. Around nine commenters spoke in favor of the Shotwell Street proposal, and around two opposed it.

Those opposed to making Slow Streets permanent generally cited traffic in the surrounding streets, litter, noise, and confrontations between drivers and visitors.

One commentator who said she lived on Shotwell Street added that parking in front of her home had become difficult, while another who said she lived on the street, Chelsea, added that people are not using the roadway as intended because it’s still dangerous.

“It doesn’t matter how permanent you make it — cars are still going to blast down Shotwell,” Chelsea said. “So, anybody who thinks that you can bike, run, walk in the middle of Shotwell is literally crazy — they’re gonna get hit by a car.”

Two commenters after her disagreed.

“I personally observed it being used in its intended format, seeing just an increase in family activity, kids wanting to ride bikes, people getting to know their neighbors,” said Andy, who said he’s been a Shotwell resident for more than 20 years.

Another commenter, Andrea, who said she’s also lived on Shotwell for more than 20 years, agreed that pedestrians were using the roadway.

“For the entirety of the pandemic till now we’ve been using them daily,” she said. “I have friends who live on Capp Street, which isn’t a slow street, who come and use it with me every single day with their kids, able to bike, skateboard.” 

The other slow streets not voted on today will continue until the pandemic ends.

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David Mamaril Horowitz

David’s one of those San Francisco natives who gets excited whenever City College is mentioned. He has journalism degrees from there and San Francisco State University, graduating from the latter in May 2021. In college, David played five different roles as an editor at student news publications and reported as an intern for three local newspapers, mostly while waiting tables at the Alamo Drafthouse. His first job was at Mitchell's Ice Cream.

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  1. Hello David/ mission local,
    Can you all please report on the whole slow street, how it’s being decided and it’s impact. I live on Kirkham, another slow street and there is no pedestrian or cyclists on the street; not to mention the ginormous sidewalk on both sides where 6 people can walk side by side holding hands comfortably. What is this madness? On the entire stretch of Kirkham from 7th to 19th, there is one block with a family of kids that have kids on the street cycling or skateboarding, again ignoring the giant sidewalk built for this purpose! And those of us who need to drive to work or shop have to weave in and out of the road closure signs! And deal with the new no left turns, etc, making a 5 minute grocery run a 25 minute zig zag obstacle course. Who makes these decisions? Slow street downtown with crowds makes some sense- but at this point SF lefty loonies have lost all common sense (and I am a proud card carrying Democrat). Can the overall impact be investigated and publicized?

  2. Slowing down one street will back up traffic on adjoining streets. Maybe not a great idea. Speed bumps would be a better option.

  3. I grew up on Sanchez St. and while I have lived outside San Francisco for many years, due to the high prices of housing, I returned today to visit a friend who still lives across from my old house. What I witnessed was people ignoring the 20 wide sidewalks and choosing instead to walk down the middle of the street. When I entered to park near my friend’s house, those people made no effort to take up any less of the street, so I followed at their pace, until they became aware of me and I was able to safely move around them. When I played outside in the 50’s, those 20ft sidewalks provided plenty of room to play and exercise. This is all well and good for the young and able bodied, but for a 75 year old like me, it isn’t that easy. Jean Paul makes some very good points.

    1. What’s not that easy? Driving slowly on Shotwell St?

      Driving a car has huge costs that most people don’t think about. Cars serve their purpose and even a car-free family like mine needs to use one now and again. But U.S. driving culture which gives children a license at 16 says driving is the norm. Now more and more San Franciscans are seeing that is misguided and killing our environment. Driving a car should be the exception to daily life.

  4. SFMTA really wants everybody to give up their cars, no matter the needs or whatever.
    i wonder how many members of the committees and board of director actually own and drive a car.
    slow streets, no cars, etc is just fine for those who have a scheduled life within the city limits:
    going to work at 8, coming back at 5;
    does always stay in the city and hardly ventures out to other areas;
    has no occupation or hobby which requires a car;
    has no dependents (like elderly family members) here in the city or in the suburbs;
    is young/healthy enough to ride a bike;
    has space/provision to park his/her expensive cargo bike/ e-bike, etc.;
    doesn’t need a reliable and punctual transit system;

    on the other side we have scenarios like this, for example:
    contractor who needs to pick up material and brings it to his shop in the city;
    bringing tool and materials to job sites;
    going camping, kayaking, cycling, running, etc. outside of the city and needs to transport his/her gear;
    has elderly parents in Santa Rosa who often need help and on short notice;
    has a weekend getaway place in the russian river area and can get there only by car;
    doesn’t go shopping in the city by car;
    does not park on the street but off street in a parking garage for the monthly rent of $300.

  5. Those surveys were conducted on line, already an exclusionary process, in the middle of the pandemic. To use them to justify post-pandemic behavior is like using little league stats to justify major league actions.

  6. Of all the really stupid things SFMTA has implemented, and there are a lot, this one takes the cake. Sidewalks are for walking. Streets are for wheeled vehicles. I concur with everything Gregg Cahill and Jay Tah have said. And the process? “we took a vote and people living on the street want less cars on that particular street”. Duh! The vocal minority strikes again San Francisco! and MTA keeps ruining our city one lane at a time.

  7. It feels like one of those things that people who have autonomy get to have, it seems like some kind of property trick. I grew up on Shotwell in the bad old days when it was a little drag strip and hells angels owned the halfway house on 20th and shotwell. The bar on the corner was a house of Ill repute or whatever you call it in Spanish. This would’ve been a bad idea then. Really this seems like something nobody cares enough about to show up to a town hall meeting for, except a hand full of zealot property owners who are getting to decide what’s good for the rest of the city. Really it’s only good for them. They’ll get to have the street “to themselves” it feels yucky. It adds parking issues, and also like who gets to shut down a street because it would be nicer for them to live on it without cars. You know who “rychwypipo”

  8. I am so tired of people thinking that they are entitled to having things their way and use the race card whenever they want to. SFMTA is so full of crap with these parklets and street closures. Its just a matter of time before a car piles through one of these parklets or streets and kills a bunch of people. I guaranty its going to happen.

  9. I used to go running on Shotwell St and I can tell you “Slow Streets” doesn’t mean pedestrians own the road. Cars are going up and down all the time and you pretty much have to be on your guard to move out of the way all the time. Yes certain more residential blocks may be quiter but overall it’s not really clear what the purpose is given more of a “Shared Street” than a “Slow Street”.

  10. aow streets make no sense there are sidealks and plenty of parks. this is just to make their property value go up. Cars going through there are more likely to hit someone and also creates one lane for entering and exiting the street. It also creates more congestion.

  11. I’m all for slower streets and less cars; however, I object to the process by which this is accomplished in SF. The decision-makers here are political appointees with no direct accountability to the residents who bear the impacts of their imho haphazard decision-making. Also, to my knowledge, there are few individuals on the current SFMTA board with backgrounds in transportation planning or urban planning.
    Moreover, the SFMTA board meetings are never scheduled so that working people can attend. They are always scheduled during normal business hours. We need to get rid of the SFMTA board and find a better way to plan the future of transportation of this fine city.

  12. In my opinion, SFMTA and all these parking, traffic and other changes to San Francisco streets and neighborhoods have been steadily destroying our city.

    I lived away from San Francisco for 12 out of 60+ years and was able to see the decline in the quality of life that these changes brought over those years.

    Handicapped, elderly, and families with more than 2 children have been marginalized when it comes to driving and parking in the city.

    No longer can you pull up in front of a business or home to run in and out.
    One must circle around to find parking and perhaps walk a couple blocks to drop a package or buy loaf of bread at a “Mom and Pop”.

    As a parent of young children, the parent of a handicapped adult, and a senior citizen, I have myself felt marginalized over each of these stages of life compared to “the old days” of living in San Francisco.

    If you are able-bodied, single and young then you can be free to take public transportation or drive and park far and walk.

    If you’re slowed down by your own infirmity or age, or that of another or others in your care, then good luck on the streets of San Francisco!

    Don’t even bother going out.
    You won’t find parking.
    You won’t be able to run in and out to accomplish any errands.
    Don’t try to visit your relatives for a five minute “hello” because it’ll take you an hour.

    Walking is fine and good and fun…..unless you can’t walk.

    Maybe that’s the point of view for the decision makers we have in the city..
    Out with the old and in with the new..
    Forget about Granny with her walker, or that autistic man who walks with a limp and runs into traffic, or that lady with the double stroller and 3 more little kids…..
    Let them struggle to get anywhere or try to run errands.
    Isn’t it better that they stay home rather than live their life driving here and there?
    They’re old, geeky looking and have too many kids!

    1. Don’t worry man I’m sure your smart enough to get that all figured out for yourself, lol! Ha! Trick!

  13. How fucked up is this? Sidewalks were designed to accommodate pedestrian travel. This is 2021, a.d., not 1871. Wake the fuck up! Use streets for vehicles, sidewalks for pedestrians.

    On a related note, seat cushions were designed for comfort AND to absorb farts, which will eventually dissipate into the air and cause global warming and the extinction of humans. No matter how much you try to suck them out, they will return to nature and we will peril.

    Get a fucking grip!

    Here’s some karma advice for you: step into the path of a moving vehicle and you’re likely to lose the battle, if not the war. There are too many fucking idiots who don’t realize that, even with their assume entitlement to do as they please, don’t really have much sense of value for their lives if they are willing to take such risks.

    Crosswalks and traffic/pedestrian signals are implemented for a reason. Sidewalks are sidewalks, streets are streets, parks are parks, and people are simultaneously ignorant and arrogant.

    Get a fucking clue!

    1. Prior comment requires editing in three places due to the iPhone’s wonderful “autoincorrect” tool.

      “perish” for peril
      “assumed” for assume
      “…as they please, (they) don’t really…”

    2. Gregg: Do you speak to your mamma with that language?
      You lost, most like and want these to stay.
      Get over it.