As Outer Sunset/Parkside residents for 20+ years, we feel it is incumbent upon us to share our concerns about the current Upper Great Highway (UGH) policies and closures.
We are in favor of opening the UGH to motor vehicles 24/7, and here’s why:
1) Having the UGH open reduces traffic and pollution on residential streets. It increases safety and reduces the strain of excess traffic on Sunset Boulevard and 19th Avenue;
2) We are avid walkers and over the years have hiked and biked throughout the area regularly. What we have observed is that the number of pedestrians and cyclists is miniscule compared to the number of motorists who need to use this route. Recreational users already have the upper and lower promenades, plus the whole of Ocean Beach for their use. Also, the UGH has bike lanes;
3) A small but vocal number of cyclists are pushing for closure of the UGH, except for recreational use by cyclists and pedestrians. One of our main objections is that all but a very few of these cyclists do not obey traffic signals or yield the right of way to pedestrians. Crossing the UGH by foot can be a game of wait-and-dodge. Got kids or a pet in tow? Even worse. We’ve seen or experienced plenty of close calls. This has not been the case with motorists on the UGH, and;
4) A new and disturbing development we’ve seen since Thanksgiving is the appearance of a coffee vendor truck on the UGH at Taraval, complete with a loud generator, a line of customers and, more recently, tables and chairs for lounging beside a parked car. This commercialization of public space mars the beauty of the natural setting and is particularly offensive. What’s next? Food trucks and parklets? Why not hold a referendum on the questions of closure and usage of the UGH by the districts affected? That would be more fair than the autocratic decisions of the head of the SF Recreation and Park Department Phil Ginsburg and the influence of small special interest groups that we’re dealing with now.
Chris Gray and Susan Chen
Categories: letter to the editor