Upper Great Highway

Letter to the Editor: Stop the “Pilot Program” and Open the Upper Great Highway


I live in District 4 and I am a member of the group called Open the Great Highway. I am writing to express my opposition to the two-year pilot program for the Upper Great Highway, not only because it has disrupted our quiet and safe neighborhoods by directing thousands of cars onto what were once minimally used streets, but because this pilot program is being requested, recommended and justified based on false and unethically obtained “facts.”

First of all, the survey that seems to have become the primary authority for this pilot program is nothing more than a sham. Almost everyone I have talked to, and to whom others have talked, knew nothing of the survey. It claims that around 4,000 people took this survey and of that, around half of the people in the Sunset District and a few in the Richmond District approved of the closure. The population of the Sunset is around 62,128; for the Richmond it is 59,297. This is a combined total of 121,425.  Therefore, according to SFMTA, et. al., around half of the four thousand surveyed, half supported a full closure. So, ultimately, 1.5% spoke for 121,425. This is hardly a mandate. What an insult.

Secondly, the manner in which the “statistics” were gathered were equally unethical and false. For example, SFMTA set up “echo counters” on both sides of the Great Highway at Judah Street to record average use, which it claims is 4,000 on weekdays and 6,000 on weekends. This information is now being used to justify a two-year pilot; however, it does not take someone with a degree in engineering to understand how biased these counts are.

First of all, these counters undoubtably counted every person entering the Great Highway at least twice. This definitely calls into question the accuracy of the count. If someone enters at Lincoln Way, they will probably exit at Lincoln Way; therefore, they are going to be counted twice. That means a group of five people counts as ten. Furthermore, many of those on bikes – or even those walking or running – do laps. I know of one person who did six laps every time he rode on the highway. That single person counted as 12. Just in these examples, six people are counted as 22. If one where to use this same formula over the course of a day, one can see how unreliable and inaccurate the claimed 4,000 a day is.

SFMTA’s recent attempts to collect information on current traffic patterns was also done in a fraudulent and unethical manner. SFMTA has blocked right turns off of Lincoln at the Lower Great Highway, at La Playa, at 48th Avenue, and at 47th Avenue. The traffic has been redirected to 46th Avenue. However, the most recent counters were placed at La Playa, 48th Avene and 47th Avenue (I have photos to prove it). All of the traffic headed south off of Lincoln takes 46th, yet no traffic count was done there. The same is true on the south side of the Outer Sunset. traffic on Sloat Boulevard can no longer turn left on 47th Avenue to head north; instead, it is directed up to 45th (which has now become one of the most dangerous left turns I have ever encountered). No counters there, either. Instead, they were placed at the Lower Great Highway between Cutler Avenue and Vincente Street, a route so little travelled that many people don’t even know where it is (again, I have photos to prove this).

Lastly, anyone who has lived in this City for any length of time knows that “pilot programs” almost always become permanent. SFMTA and the SF Recreation and Park Department believe the pilot will appease an angry public. Additionally, and most disgustingly, they are doing this to bypass required authorizations, such as permits from the Coastal Commission, that are required for a permanent closure.

Please do not approve the two-year pilot program. It not only destroys the quality of life for many of us in the Sunset, but approval will tell the SFMTA and Rec. and Park that the immoral and underhanded methods in which they obtain information are not only OK, but are sanctioned as well.

Alyse Ceirante

5 replies »

  1. The Upper Great Highway needs to reopen to provide a safe route for folks heading down towards highway 35. The closure is causing traffic clogging on both Sunset Blvd and 46th Avenue (18 Sloat route). The children that used to play around their house can no longer do so because of the massive increase in traffic and additionally the traffic moving at UNSAFE speeds in PURELY residential areas. The idea was not well thought out for the long-term and safety of the residents. Additionally, the folks who drive their cars (with their bikes on the rack) take up all parking and deny the residents parking. Those folks are just lazy and want to bike on a flat roadway. It is a biased attack on the residents of the lower Sunset areas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a shame how SFMTA, their leader and his staff continue to destroy our streets with unnecessary changes to only favor a few: bicycle riders and the city itself. I say this because the red lanes only create so much more traffic, the green lanes for the bicycle folks get bigger and wider and it avoids ambulances and police get stuck in traffic lwhen they create these mediums. They did it in Cesar Chavez, Potrero, now Geary and of course the closure of the Great Highway!


  3. I totally agree. It is very difficult to drive to the beach and park now. Cars are barred from Great Highway, making it hard to get anywhere near Ocean Beach.


  4. Thanks for the editorial. A few additional facts: An additional study used to deceive the public includes a characterization of the pre-closure road as “high risk” but with no supporting data (in truth SFFD has a single accident recorded on the road since 2017). The study undertakes zero analysis of the existing pathway between upper and lower great highways that has served the public well for years, and also zero analysis of established earthquake evacuation routing. What else would you expect from a study managed by our city transportation experts . . . ? Yes, read that again, your transportation public servants are more concerned with bike wants than emergency evacuation management needs.


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