San Francisco’s Great Highway has been car-free since April 2020, but will allow automobile traffic again on weekdays starting Monday. This aggravates supporters of the car-free Great Highway, who have taken to calling it the “Great Walkway,” because Mayor London Breed reopened the road to cars by a mayoral decree and bypassed a County Transportation Authority task force examining the matter more deliberately.
Those supporters are kickstarting the backlash Sunday, the eve of cars returning, with a Save the Great Walkway Rally and canvassing effort.
We are thrilled to announce an AMAZING speaker line-up for Sunday!— Kid Safe SF❤️ 兒童安全舊金山❤️ Seguro para niños SF❤️ (@KidSafeSF) August 13, 2021
📣 @MeganKNguyen w/ @sunrisebayarea
📣 State Senator @Scott_Wiener
📣 Maia Piccagli w/ @MothersOutFront
📣 Plyfaa Suwanamalik-Murphy D4's Youth Commissioner
📣 Kat Chen @katmindoo Mental Health Worker pic.twitter.com/mleWNIZm3l
The rally is mainly organized by Kid Safe SF, and is co-sponsored by organizations you would expect, like Walk SF, the SF Bicycle Coalition, and the Church of 8 Wheels. But they also list among their featured speakers state senator Scott Wiener, generally a staunch Breed ally who does not challenge her publicly, so the popular effort to keep the highway car-free does have crossover support.
“Last week a small group of politicians made a backroom deal to turn the park back into a highway, even as our climate emergency continues to worsen,” organizers say on their invite. “On Monday, August 16, the Great Walkway will be turned over to cars on weekdays for the foreseeable future. Sunset District Supervisor Gordon Mar continues to call for a ‘compromise’ that would bring cars back to the road permanently.
“Don’t let these politicians get away with taking away our park. Don’t let them get away with ignoring the climate disaster unfolding in front of our eyes. Join us on Sunday, August 15 for a rally to Save the Walkway.”
As seen on the schedule above, ralliers plan to “Canvass the neighborhood and distribute window signs.” So they’re clearly planning a more sustained resistance than just a one-day demonstration.
And this fight may not be over. There is opposition on the Board of Supervisors to Breed’s ramming through the return of cars to the highway, and it’s not hard to see legislation being introduced to make the highway permanently free of cars. The Great Highway will stay car-free on weekends under the new arrangement, but pedestrian advocates seem willing to walk into the lion's den to fight the return of car traffic.
Save the Great Walkway Rally is Sunday, August 15, at 10:30 a.m., at the Great Highway and Judah Street.