letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Slow Lake Street Must Go

In Unpraise of Slow Lake St.:

The over two-year designation of basically the whole length of Lake Street’s 28 blocksas a Slow Street has been a swell convenience for all Lake Street residents, apparently giving them their assumed freedom to walk down the middle of the street at any time,though having roomy wide sidewalks for the same purpose. Why? 

Simply because they think they can … and sometimes unsafely so. I have witnessed mothers walking with baby buggies mid-street as well, frowning at all passing cars on “their” street. (even including Lake Street residents maneuvering to park their cars).  

For those of us non-Lake Street Outer Richmond residents who must drive to work in North Beach or other downtown locations, we’re forced to the heavier trafficked, greater stop signaled and bus-filled routes of California and Geary to Park Presidio, in effect making them Slow(er) Streets, too. Or, we can alternately start in the other direction on the Lincoln cliff road at Presidio’s edge, pick up freeway 101, then exit on the Marina Boulevard turnoff at the Palace of Fine Arts. This is a longer route than via California or Geary, but still much faster than being mired in traffic on these two other roads. Either way, being more than a daily “slight inconvenience” (x two trips per day, considering round trips). 

The most efficiently direct route for many Outer Richmond residents is Lake Street to a left turn onto Park Presidio, continuing to 101, and a short 101 distance to the Marina Boulevard turnoff at the Palace of Fine Arts. From there it’s a simple drive to any North Beach or further downtown location.  

But instead, we are mistreated with “no through driving” on Slow Lake Street! Why?  

Are Lake Street folks somehow special, more deserving than the rest of us? There’s obviously unacknowledged favoritism accounting for the daily “inconveniences” unequally thrust upon the rest of us. And this equally applies to all SF Slow Streets.  

The initial pandemic relief the Slow Street idea intended has instead created a much more citywide inconvenience than citywide relief. Slow Streets must go!  

Tom Bullock, Outer Richmond District

9 replies »

  1. I think the Lake street residents must be experiencing the same slowdown on their commute and I’m sure they would be happy to have you strolling and enjoying Slow Lake Street if you wanted. So perhaps you’ve exaggerated this “favoritism” narrative a tiny bit? I think it would be fairer to say the streets are a shared resource and we should have options that cater to a variety of different use cases.

    Furthermore, it sounds like you still have a fast route to work (101) and a slower surface street route (California/Geary) so I can’t help but wonder how big of an impact it is actually causing? You didn’t mention how many minutes it adds to your trip. I struggle to see the logic behind the suggestion that we should give drivers a third route by taking away the one safe cycling through the Richmond. This is to say nothing of the climate implications of prioritizing automobile traffic in our city yet again.


  2. BOS and city agencies are now merely an extension of the bike lobby, determined to make working people and non-elites ride bikes everywhere. SF has given these bike elites millions of taxpayer funds while saying it for climate change. Red herring. The best action for climate change is to get people into electric vehicles. We can take back our city. Vote them out and don’t give the city another taxpayer dime until they stop giving money away to the Bike Lobby.


    • While I disagree with you about the electric car bit, I do agree with everything else you said. The Bike Lobby needs to be shown the door and the politicians need to stop listening to it. On the good side it appears the Slow Streets crap will be voted on in November so there’s a chance for all drivers in the city to tell the city government how they really feel about these idiotic closures aimed squarely at them. So if you drive a car in the city please vote and make bicycle salmon shut up for good!


      • Garret: See the city’s own Climate Action Plan, page 77. Of all the strategies to fight climate change, biking is a tiny sliver of the pie chart. Getting people into EVs is 80% of the chart. So the bike Lobby and the city use climate change as the rational for pushing bikes, when the most effective method is EVs. The planet is burning and flooding, and the BOS and Tumlin fiddle with funding millions for the bike Lobby which does next to nothing for climate change.


      • I hear ya. Although the reality is that EVs are quite awful for the environment too. They might clean up the city air but they’re not good for the planet due to their batteries. But I suppose as far as the city is concerned that’s the only thing they care about. And I agree with you about Tumlin. He’s a bicycle zealot and he needs to go asap!


  3. I disagree with the following statement: “The most efficiently direct route for many Outer Richmond residents is Lake Street to a left turn onto Park Presidio, continuing to 101”

    Say what? That is no where near the “most efficient route” at all unless you live on Lake Street AND are a few blocks from Park Presidio. Otherwise using California or even Clement is actually quicker.

    Lake Street is an enclave relative to most Outer Richmond residents, most of whom actually never need to drive a car on Lake Street unless they want to visit Mountain Lake park. Just go look at a map. Almost everyone jumps on Fulton or Geary or California if you live in the Outer Richmond and want to get on the Park Presidio. Not Lake Street. So what are talking about.

    And if you wanna get on the Golden Gate Bridge, I personally find it easier to take a right turn off of 25th Avenue and travel over Lincoln Blvd.

    Then you whine about mothers walking baby carriers in the middle of Lake street, blocking your inefficient route to your destination that you can easily get to more efficiently by other means. Seriously?


  4. Open our streets! This is ridiculous.The SFMTA, Jeffrey Tumlin, should be focusing 100% on public transportation bc right now any productive functioning adult or child who is forced to rely on MUNI is at a disadvantage. Forcing the public to rely on a notoriously late, dirty, unsafe system is an inequitable proposition from the beginning. Tumlin promised he would bring equity to our citizens thru transportation. Level the playing field for those who need to commute distances and who can not afford car services. Who need safe, efficient, ubiquitous and reliable public transit. Why I stress is he closing our streets?


  5. The best, cleanest argument for returning Lake Street to normalcy is that Lake should never, ever have been made permanently “Slow”. Lake is the 50-year “OG” of cycling streets – full bike lanes and wide sidewalks the whole way. An irrefutably pristine safety record. Normal Lake is the model for what Clay and Page and Sanchez want to be when they grow up.

    So I take issue with – and am slightly suspicious of – this commentary and the claims that Lake needs to be restored because it’s an important secret “cut-through” to Park Presidio – THE EXACT spurious arguments that the desperate “Keep Lake Slow” crowd have been making of late. Hmm.

    The baby strollers, and pedestrians continuing to waddle in traffic, are NOT the problem, they are an incidental symptom of Lake remaining traffic-diverted and “Slow” for so long past its relevance or value.


  6. Lets make the 4 lane Geary Blvd the fastest way though the district, time its lights so you can get from park presidio to 30th without stopping at a light, going 35 mph. Sometimes i get stopped at every light on Geary in our district, even late at night. Thats insane. No wonder we have problems– our thoroughfare is our worst street to get to where you want to go.


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