The Great Highway was temporarily closed to vehicle traffic on Wednesday morning as workers cleared sand from the roadway. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Sunset supervisor wants to keep Great Highway car free during crisis

Mar eyes empty roadway as ideal space for bicylists and pedestrians

San Francisco’s Great Highway was devoid of cars Wednesday as workers once again cleared sand from the roadway.

And one city supervisor wants to keep it that way until the coronavirus crisis is over, opening up space for bicyclists and pedestrians in the Outer Sunset.

“Keeping Upper Great Highway closed to cars and open for people for safe, socially distant exercise makes sense to me,” said Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the Sunset District.

“If it also makes sense to our public health officials, I’d love to see Upper Great Highway stay closed to cars for the duration of shelter-in-place,” Mar said.

Mar argued that keeping the road car free would help improve the mental and physical health of people who need exercise while sheltering in place.

He also noted that the heavily used bicycle and pedestrian path along Ocean Beach “isn’t wide enough for safe social distancing.”

Whether the stretch between Sloat Boulevard and Lincoln Way remains closed during the order is up to transit officials, Mar said.

He asked Jeffrey Tumlin, the head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, to make the temporary change last Friday.

“He updated me this morning that he’s currently in discussion about my request with other city departments about my request,” Mar said. “I think it’s important that my request be properly vetted by our health and emergency operations officials.”

Public Works also has a say over when to clear sand from the eroding beach off the roadway, Mar said.

An SFMTA spokesperson directed the San Francisco Examiner to Public Works for comment on Wednesday, while a spokesperson for Public Works did not immediately have information on the possible closure.

The proposal is supported by Walk San Francisco and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, according to Mar’s office.

“!! Yes,” the Bicycle Coalition exclaimed three times on Twitter when the supervisor floated the idea.

Young cyclists move under a barricade blocking vehicle traffic along Great Highway at Lincoln Way on Wednesday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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