letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Share the Upper Great Highway

Editor:

I’m writing to add to the voices objecting to bicycle blockades on the Upper Great Highway. Thank you for giving our impacted community the opportunity to be heard. It’s greatly appreciated. 


As most of us in San Francisco are aware, the director of SF Rec. and Park, Phil Ginsburg, filed a directive stating that as of Aug. 16, 2021, the Upper Great Highway would be again available for vehicles to drive on it Mondays through Fridays. However, his directive is being ignored by a weekly blockade of bicyclists during the evening rush hour commute who claim they are protesting to keep cars off the two miles of highway because we should only be riding bicycles on there 24/7. They demand exclusive use of the highway for only themselves in the name of climate change. 


There has been no Environmental Impact Report to support their claims. Science shows that moving the 17,600-19,900 vehicles per day (MTA’s figures) off the highway and redirecting them to endanger and overwhelm the residential streets of the populated community worsens noise and air pollution. The handful of bicyclists preventing vehicles from steadily driving the speed limit nonstop between Lincoln and Sloat on the Upper Great Highway, forcing them to stop, restart and idle in gridlock, directly cause an increase in greenhouse emissions. It defeats their stated purpose to protest on behalf of a cleaner climate. 

Leading their bicycle blockade at their last “protest” were two of their cars ironically driving on the highway adorned with signs for a car-free Great Walkway. The bicyclists yelled at the commuting drivers they had trapped to get out of their cars and ride bicycles instead. Many of the imprisoned drivers being yelled at, who had no way to pass them or exit, were driving in hybrid or electric cars, and probably also ride bicycles and support environmentally healthy causes. Their hypocrisy is out there for all to see, as most bicycle riders coming to the Great Highway for weekend recreation transport their bicycles to the area in their private vehicles. They falsely claim that vehicles on the highway make it unsafe for them to share it, yet the last fatality on the Upper Great Highway was in 2005, and the last time the SF Fire Department was called to a collision on there was in 2017. A “great walkway” currently exists. It’s the 16’ wide pedestrian and jogging path that runs the entire length of the east side of the highway. Bicyclists also safely ride on the 4’ wide shoulders on each side of the highway’s lanes.

It should not be an unpleasant, irritating, nearly impossible task to drive and park in, around and through San Francisco. The Great Highway has always been a safe, shared space among drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and others. Keep it open to everyone and demand an end to what is clearly not a protest, but a refusal to share our streets.

Judi Gorski

San Francisco Resident, District 4

31 replies »

  1. The entitled motorists who think it is their birthright to drive anywhere anytime 24/7 screamed, yelled, pounded the pavement. Why? Because one of their props was taken away. Every motorist who has been kvetching for the past 19 months know full well their ability to drive has not been truncated for even a second. It is just the spoiled rotten, “It’s my car and I can do what I want” which is ruining Planet Earth. Those citizens who pedal on The Great Walkway on Thursday night are engaging in the most benign form of protest. It may annoy the motorists who must spend a few minutes more behind the wheel. Why don’t you join the ride and get some exercise?

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s a bike path located parallel to the UGH, bike lanes are also available on the shoulder of the UGH. Why not share the space? Join the people there for some exercise.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Once again, your response is completely tone deaf and neglects to look at the issues the closure the blockages creates. The fact that you “liked” your own response says it all.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I talked to an incredibly distressed woman stuck in one if those backlogs. She had been rushing home because her sister called her while she was at work, The sister was having a medical emergency and needed help. There are similar stories received by the Open the Great Highway Alliance. Anybody who thinks so little of their fellow human beings that they think it is ok to inflict that kind of distress, or impede someone who needs to help a loved one, should rethink their claim to be part of the community. I felt so bad for that woman. Was she spoiled? Was she entitled? Was she using the Great Highway as a prop? Did she deserve being forced into “a few minutes” of such distress by a bunch of folks on bikes with zero understanding of fellow human beings?

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      • I empathize with the woman whose story Hariseldon conveyed. It is a well known fact that the Thursday evening cycle along The Great Walkway is well publicized in advance. Both by advocates for The Great Walkway and the motorists posse. That is why my earlier Post wrote correctly there are many options for motorists to drive from Lincoln Way to Sloat. While this story may be impactful for readers it needs to be put in context. Not one driver has been prohibited from using an automobile in this area of San Francisco since The Great Walkway was created in April 2020.

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  2. Ms. Gorski is absolutely correct. The bike lobby, in the form of the entitled protesters who want exclusive use of a four lane highway for a few rides a week, are losing support every time they hold up hundreds of working people on their way home on a Thursday evening. Yet our city officials and the SFPD do nothing to stop it. These protests are clearly illegal, but the police merely escort them to keep them safe. A reckoning is coming. People are furious about this, and the online petition to open the highway has soared to a few signatures less than 15,000. As it gets darker earlier, these protests get even more dangerous. When will action against them be taken? After someone gets hurt?

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Losing support with whom? The Entitled harangued, harassed and ranted sufficiently to the point Mayor Breed in an August Recess closed door meeting with Connie Chan, Gordon Mar and Myrna Melgar subverted the deliberative process that was in place to determine the future of THE GREAT WALKWAY. This is January 6. San Francisco style. This political treachery will not go unanswered.

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    • You seem to have that backwards there. The Highway was closed for social distancing and then the subversive BC along with their allies at PNR/SFMTA decided to keep it closed and make some park out of it.

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    • How do you equate January 6 with a heated disagreement on the great highway involving commuters who use cars and hypocrites who also use cars and sometimes ride a bicycle? Then you misrepresent what actually took place between Mayor Breed and various affected supervisors so that you can say “political treachery” ? Why? Because you do not understand what compromise means and think sometime against your own obvious bias is akin to treason?

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    • There was no “deliberative process” whatsoever. Please get your facts correct. The highway was closed by RPD, by Ginsburg, as part of the emergency order issued by Mayor Breed. RPD, aided and abetted in their subterfuge by the entitled bike lobby, ignored the fact that this was a temporary closure, and in classic bait and switch fashion, are trying to turn a temporary closure into a permanent one, along with planning for the crass commercialization of a once pristine area. So troll away, but those are the facts.

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      • Pristine area? Cute. With environment killing cars polluting the atmosphere on The Great Walkway 60.7 percent of the week. Say, what? That’s a stretch even for the The Entitled whose definition of Compromise is My Way and Get Off My Highway.

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      • Diverting thousands of cars off a safe highway, where lights are times for 30 mph and you dont have to stop, so vehicles have to drive farther, stop and start, idle, sit in congestion while on Chain of Lakes Drive, does NOT Improve green house gas emissions. There are more Vehicle Miles Traveled, therefore more pollution. The cars have not gone away. They are now in the park, on residential narrow streets, and on the overloaded Sunset and 19th ave. Please, get your facts correct, madam

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      • The diversion of thousands of cars every day increases Vehicle miles traveled up Lincoln, thru the narrow streets of residential avenues, and onto overloaded Sunset and 19th Ave. This increases the output of harmful green house gas emissions, not reduces them. One can travel on the GH at a steady clip, never having to stop, while now the diverted traffic on the weekend has to start, stop, idle and sit in gridlock on Chain of Lacks Drive. What damage is this doing to the floral and fauna of GGP? How much safer are pedestrians now at more dangerous intersections throught out the Sunset? But please, keep trolling away but get the facts correct. ________________________________

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  4. Thank you, Judi, I couldn’t agree more! The simple sharing of the Upper Great Highway between cars, bicycles, and hikers has been going on for decades. And it STILL occurs on weekdays when cars are driving on the road, as I see walkers on the paths on either side of the road, as well as cyclists on the shoulder (as you will find on MOST smaller highways around California), as I drive down the highway after work.

    I wholeheartedly agree that forcing cars onto city surface streets creates MORE climate changing pollution as stop and go traffic generates far more emissions than a constant 32 mph, as the Great Highway allows. Using Sunset Blvd. as a detour is not comparable as the lights are no longer timed, and the road must now carry its usual traffic load PLUS the Great Highway commuters, generating MORE pollution generating congestion, not to mention simply adding the extra distance of driving along Lincoln Way, and congestion approaching the light at the intersection of SB Great Highway and Lincoln. Suggesting 19th Ave as an alternative is laughable.

    I don’t understand how anyone can claim that closing the Upper Great Highway is actually HELPING the environment! This idea that closing the UGH is somehow SAVING it from being closed soon due to sea level rise is comical. NOAA, the government agency that studies these things, predicts that it will be many DECADES before ANY changes will be noticed.

    What happened to our capacity for sharing? Why should a road that serves almost 20,000 people be closed so a few people can recreate on a place they can recreate when it’s OPEN to cars? Why is it that an area that allowed for the coexisting of everyone can no longer fulfill this purpose?
    Is that who we are becoming, a city of children that haven’t learned to share? O,r are we now a place where a minority of disaffected people would rather “protest” to make everyone else bend to their wishes?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I agree with this article 100%. The Thursday protests snarl traffic for thousands of people and families trying to go about their lives when the road should be opened, as agreed upon by Rec and Park and city officials. The confusion and anger for being stuck on the Great Highway for 45 minutes during a “protest” is understandable. Share the roads and let everybody get on with their lives.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Its the entitled cyclist that are creating more problems than they are worth. Just like the guy about that liked his own comment.

    According to SFCTA information, only 2.2% of people ride bikes in the Sunset, while 89% either drive alone or carpool and city wide bike rider ship is only about 7%. Yet SFMTA continues to penalize motorist to benefit bicyclist. It seems you should be supporting motor vehicle usage. A whole lot of people including seniors and people with disabilities cannot bike.

    The truth about bicycle safety is that only 11% of all bicycle injury accidents involve cars, of those 88% are the cyclists fault, of those more than 60% are outside of Urban Zones, of the remaining Urban collisions over 40% of them have a measurable BAL, and mostly take place between 5:00 and 8:00 PM and are over 80% males.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Why are rogue cyclists arriving by car to protest cars during the car time protected by SF cops while the citizens deal with real crime on our public streets and real emergencies? Not a good look for the city that claims it to be a shiny example for the world to emulate. This looks more like the dark side that FBI is investigating and the supervisors are trying to legislate out of City Hall. Who authorized this use of police power?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for this contribution, I agree with it 100%. There’s no two ways about it: these are selfish, militant, self-entitled Bike Coalition folks who have no interest in co-existing in a peaceful way with everyone else in society. Instead, it’s “give me what I want, even to the detriment of tens if not hundred of thousands of other Bay Area residents, and if I can’t have everything I want I’m going to make life as unpleasant as I can on everyone else.” And they’re being enabled by Phil Ginsberg, who has made clear his “close the Great Highway or bust” agenda to just about everyone in city government, and who intentionally and unethically puts forth false information and data to advance his cause and spends an inordinate amount of public tax dollars and resources to create one-sided partisan propaganda on this highly charged political issue. Under no model of government should a non-elected public official be allowed to wield and abuse so much partisan power. Ginsberg needs to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, because they’re basically white, privileged, Bike Coalition people doing it. When people of color obstruct traffic, they get arrested (case in point, the folks who obstructed traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge a month or so back while protesting U.S. immigration policies). When it’s the Bike Coalition, which receives something like $800k in San Francisco tax dollars every year to push their partisan agendas, they get a police escort. Why would the City want to arrest someone it’s in bed with?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Support people who agree with you when it comes time to vote for representatives to stop this abuse. People who cut their commute times have more time to devote to actions to protect their neighborhoods.

        People on west side of the city will need it as our state representatives removed single family zoning this year, (Atkins, and Wiener were supported by Ting and Chiu) making your neighborhoods the next target for density and gentrification.

        Encourage new people to run for office. Quiz the candidates on their intentions and vote accordingly. Proponents of density hate single family housing and cars.

        There is a state ballot initiative to return land use decisions to local communities. Watch who supports the initiative and support them. https://ourneighborhoodvoices.com/

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    • Next time. Spell GINSBURG correctly. Nice to read that the Bicycle Coalition, at least in your mind, is so influential in San Francisco. Gives me hope for the future of the 24/7 GREAT WALKWAY. Enjoy Thanksgiving and take a ride on the car free thoroughfare during the holiday.

      Like

      • Like the Parks Alliance the Bike Lobby is deeply ingrained in SF politics in many questionable enterprises. They will have their turn at being grilled on their operations soon enough.

        Like

  9. It’s a circus act out there on the Upper Great! First, you’ve got police escorting a group who want them defunded (according to the organizers twitter posts). Then we have CARS escorting the cyclists for a protest against cars. But the worst is allowing a small group spoiled brats to break the law while holding thousands of drivers hostage who are just trying to get home from work. WHO IS TELLING THE POLICE NOT TO CITE THEM? AND WHY? Maybe some people do not like the idea of showing up at work all sweaty & out of breath from a bike ride. Or maybe they live too far from work for public transit to be a reasonable option. How insane to expect people to stop driving cars with no infrastructure in place for alternative modes of transport. Show us safe alternatives with safe, on time public transit FIRST!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I absolutely agree that Great Highway should be open to cars as well as bicycles and walkers.
    Including weekends, so that people from various locations can get to Ocean Beach and park.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Not just the Great Highway. They need to re-open JFK. The street closures are compounding the difficulty people have getting their lives back together, going to school, work, and play, in the manner in which they were accustomed to. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are struggling with street closures. They created this site to stress the urgency: https://parkaccess4all.org/

    Like

  12. Motorists call Bicyclists ‘Terrorists’. But these motorists drive their Cars on The Great Walkway when closed to Cars. In Aftermath of 11.21.21 Car Carnage, in Wisconsin I ask who’s TRUE TERRORISTS?? – Motorists aiming 2-ton lethal weapons at people or humans on Bicycles?

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  13. I read on Nextdoor that the head cheerleader MD for The Entitled is doing the best Rumpelstiltskin routine howling onto the beach head about the Thursday night Cycle tour on The Great Walkway. Rather than continue these political musings the good MD should be happy that her strident effort resulted in cars being once again allowed to pollute The Great Walkway 60 percent of the time. Rather than complain I would suggest getting some physical exercise and joining the Thursday night festivities. Or, on the weekend sample the offerings of The Great Walkway food trucks.

    Like

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