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Pedestrians or cars: Tensions running high over future of San Francisco’s Great Highway

By Luz Pena

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    SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The future of San Francisco’s Great Highway has been one of the city’s most divisive issues since the pandemic. Now its future is in the hands of the Board of Supervisors.

The two mile stretch of the Great Highway was closed for nearly a year and a half. Families and cyclists enjoyed the open space car-free during the pandemic.

Last month, the city announced a compromise, but tensions are still running high.

“Hate it. Don’t like it,” said Slavashirr Oklv, San Francisco Resident

Oklv is one of many cyclists who’ve been pushing for the Great Highway to remain car-free.

Since Aug. 16, the Great Highway has been open for cars from 6 a.m. Monday to noon on Fridays. The highway is closed to vehicles in the weekends and holidays.

Driving home from work we met Richmond residents Ed Feeney. He’s glad the highway opened for cars.

“The freeway being closed causes a lot of congestion on the surface streets here,” said Feeney and added, “It takes me literally probably 15 more minutes to get home from where it’s blocked.”

Now the question is how will this compromise last?

Senator Scott Wiener has been a vocal supporter to keep the highway closed.

“The number of streets and blocks that we are asking to be kept permanently for pedestrians and cyclists and not for cars is a tiny percentage of our overall road network,” said Sen. Wiener.

In the two mile stretch you can find people with diverse opinions, but the majority we spoke to agree with the compromise.

“I like having it open for foot traffic, but I can see it being opened during the week for car traffic making a lot of sense,” said San Francisco resident, Charlie Kaupp.

Dana Herbert Walker lives several blocks from the Great Walkway and says she understands both sides but, “I feel like that was a fair compromise.”

Some residents don’t even want to hear the word “compromise” again.

“I don’t like compromises. I think we should extremely ban cars. We haven’t gone far enough,” said Oklv.

According to the Mayor’s office, the long term plan will be made in the coming months and will require legislative action by the Board of Supervisors.

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