San Francisco’s Page Street will continue to be a bicyclist and pedestrian haven now that the city’s transportation board has approved its status as a permanent slow street.
The street joins 17 other roadways approved to be forever “slow streets” by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials selected Page Street, a road linking San Francisco’s downtown to Golden Gate Park, as a “slow street” — a residential roadway with features meant to slow car traffic and boost active alternatives to driving.
Labeled the Slow Streets Program, the city initially sanctioned off more than 30 streets for bicyclists, skateboarders, walkers and other non-car travelers in a time when fewer people were commuting to work and more needed safe, outdoor recreation space.
Dozens of bicyclists, walkers and neighbors voiced their support to keep Page Street slow both in-person and online during the Jan. 17 SFMTA meeting. Some called Slow Page Street an essential roadway for downtown bicycle commuters, while others hailed it as a blossoming community space to safely live and play in.
The approved policy backs previously implemented traffic restrictions, like traffic diverters at Webster Street and Octavia Boulevard. It also adds a full median traffic diverter at Divisadero Street to prevent through traffic on Page.
The road less traveled
Mark Dreger, project manager of the Page Slow Street project, said the street has “quite a complex background,” as improving traffic safety along the corridor — which was once an different route to the Central Freeway — has been a decade-long effort.
At the meeting last Tuesday, Dreger painted an image of what Page Street once was before the slow street program started during the pandemic — a street filled with long queues of drivers waiting to merge onto the freeway, with little traffic safety.
“It was very much an impact on neighborhood quality of life and traffic safety at the boulevard,” Dreger said.
Just before the pandemic, traffic officials were already developing a pilot project to restrict freeway access from the corridor. The SFMTA said the project seems to be working, with fewer reports of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and no signs of worsened traffic conditions on surrounding streets.
“We’ve done so many years of engagement with the community, but just looking at the past three, every time we’ve gone out and we’ve spoken with people about this slow street, folks are very enthusiastic about what they’re seeing,” Dreger said.
“If you go out there, you see a lot of community art and placemaking. People have really taken strong ownership over the corridor and it’s delightful to see.”Mark Dreger, Page Slow Street project manager
A 2021 SFMTA project survey cited 75 percent of residents living on Page Street saying they wanted to keep the changes made from the emergency slow streets program permanently.
“If you go out there, you see a lot of community art and placemaking. People have really taken strong ownership over the corridor and it’s delightful to see,” Drager said.
Supervisor Dean Preston, whose distrit includes Page Street, also voiced his support for the project, submitting a written letter to the board ahead of the meeting. He said the approval backs his dedication to advancing a green transportation system in the city.
He has previously pushed the SFMTA to keep the Page Slow Street project on track in times of delayed approvals and installations.
“This is a long time coming,” Preston said in a statement after the meeting. “I’m proud to have worked with SFMTA, neighbors, and advocates to get this Page Street project across the finish line as a permanent slow street. Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen!”