How San Francisco is making space for pedestrians


Some streets in San Francisco are now car-free and offer safer spaces for pedestrians and cyclists. Photo: AFP

Walking may be excellent for health, helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but it is not always favoured in the city, where it is often difficult for pedestrians to share space with motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists, not to mention users of electric scooters.

Back in 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, San Francisco decided to implement a more bicycle-friendly, but also more pedestrian-friendly, traffic programme.

Called "Slow Streets" and implemented in 2020 by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), it was designed to limit car traffic in certain streets and residential areas.

The idea is mainly to allow pedestrians and cyclists to share public space effectively without hindering one another, enabling everyone to get around safely.

To this end, signs and barriers have been installed to limit car traffic on certain roads.

Today, four sectors benefit from streets specially dedicated to pedestrians, with bicycle paths that are easily identifiable, or at least better than they previously were.

Children can run or play in the street and families can move around without being inconvenienced. And the same goes for people with disabilities.

Other streets are expected to join the programme in the near future, particularly in the Hayes Valley, Outer Sunset and North Beach districts.

The results of this programme are encouraging, with car traffic reduced by half in the areas concerned, but also with an increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic of 65% and 17% respectively on weekdays and 80% and 31% on weekends. – AFP Relaxnews

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