The Great Highway Project
Please note: The Great Highway will be closed to vehicles for the observed Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 25 beginning at 6 a.m. through Friday, November 26 and the weekend. It will return to vehicle access on Monday, November 29 at 6 a.m.
The Great Highway is a spectacular park promenade along Ocean Beach providing safe play space on wide roads for pedestrians, cyclists, and all other forms of recreation, for all visitors on weekends:
- Fridays: starting at noon
- Saturdays – all day
- Sundays – all day
- Mondays, ending at 6 a.m.
- New Years Day - Friday, January 1, 2021
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - Friday, January 15, 2021
- Presidents' Day - Monday, February 15, 2021
- Memorial Day - Monday, May 31, 2021
- Independence Day - Monday, July 5, 2021
- Labor Day - Monday, September 6, 2021
- Indigenous Peoples Day, Italian American Heritage Day - Monday, October 11, 2021
- Veterans Day - Thursday, November 11, 2021
- Thanksgiving - Thursday, November 25 and Friday, November 26, 2021
- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - Friday, December 24, 2021 and Saturday, December 25, 2021
- New Year's Eve and New Year's Day - Friday, December 31, 2021 and Saturday, January 1, 2022
Note, pedestrian crossing of the roadway is allowed during vehicle periods at the seven signalized crossings.
This schedule started on August 16, 2021 and will be in place until the Board of Supervisors considers legislation on the future of the Great Highway beyond the pandemic emergency closure. Additional information can be found on the Mayor's Press Release.
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SFRPD) and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will continue to monitor the various uses of the Great Highway to inform the next phases of the management of the Great Highway. We are excited to engage with the residents of San Francisco to craft a solution that meets community needs and provides expanded access to one of the city’s prime destinations. See below for further details and ways to get involved in the planning process or email your feedback and comments on the Great Highway to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Great Highway is a 3.8-mile-long roadway running from Point Lobos Ave at the Cliff House in the north to Skyline Boulevard at Fort Funston and Lake Merced in the south. The Upper Great Highway is a two-mile segment of this roadway, between Lincoln Way and Sloat Boulevard. As shown in the image below, the segment between Lincoln Way and Sloat Blvd includes roadways, paths, and dunes. Restrooms are available at Judah and Taraval Streets. On weekends, this area becomes a 17-acre park with a 2-mile promenade, while on weekdays it is a roadway with an adjacent trail.
The closure of the Upper Great Highway to vehicle access during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided enhanced outdoor space for safe recreation since it was closed in April 2020. The emergency closure of the Upper Great Highway to cars has provided a safe, car-free route prioritizing outdoor space for physically distanced activities for families, people on bicycles and in wheelchairs, people with walkers or other mobility assistance devices, and people with strollers, walking, jogging, skateboarding and more.
The area provides a valuable scenic public promenade that can accommodate higher volumes of use than the adjacent pathways and offers recreational access to the beachfront to people who cannot easily use the beach itself. Over the course of the past six months, an average of 82,000 monthly visitors rolled and strolled along the car-free corridor. A record-breaking day in January 2021 saw 11,600 visitors access the road in a single day. More recently, over 6,000 visits were counted on Saturday, August 28, 2021, the busiest day since early March 2021.
The city continues to prioritize public health and safety, balancing access to critical recreation and open spaces while addressing concerns regarding traffic and safety impacts of the closure on surrounding neighborhood streets. SFRPD is working with SFMTA and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) to mitigate those impacts, including the installation of signs to divert traffic, new stop signs, barricades and posts to restrict turns, and speed humps to reduce speed, which were fully installed in April 2021. You can learn more at the SFMTA's Great Highway and Outer Sunset Traffic Management website.
Over the coming months the SFRPD and SFMTA will engage in a survey process to gather data on the various uses of the Great Highway during the new configuration with vehicle access on weekdays, and pedestrian and bike access on weekends. This data, along with public feedback, will support the decision-making process for any further temporary or permanent changes to the Great Highway following the state of emergency.
How do I get to the Upper Great Highway?
To visit the Great Highway by car there are parking lots with ADA accessible parking located at the north and south ends. The Great Highway is also accessible by public transit, bike and foot.
- The northern parking lot is located off the Great Highway between Lincoln Way and John F. Kennedy Drive across from the western end of Golden Gate Park.
- The southern parking lot is located at the Great Highway and Sloat Boulevard, with parking also available along Sloat Boulevard.
- Current bus and train lines to the Great Highway include:
- N Judah
- L Taraval
- 48-Quintara/24th St
- 18-46th Ave (with stops within 3 blocks of Great Highway)
- For more information visit SFMTA's trip planning page.
- To bike or walk, there is a virtually car-free route through Golden Gate Park that connects San Francisco with Ocean Beach and the Great Highway. View these routes and maps at the Golden Gate Park slow street page. In addition, Slow Streets and/or bikeways along Kirkham, Ortega and Vicente provide access to the Great Highway.
How did the closure of the Upper Great Highway start?
On April 4, 2020, San Francisco Public Works (DPW) closed the Upper Great Highway for standard sand removal maintenance. During that time, District 4 Supervisor Mar requested that the roadway remain closed to create the opportunity for safe, physically distant exercise during the remainder of the city emergency. Ultimately, the road was incorporated into part of the Slow Streets initiative, which continues as a temporary emergency response while San Francisco remains under a State-of-Emergency amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 16, 2021, the Great Highway reopened to vehicular traffic during weekdays and closed for non-vehicle recreation during extended weekend hours.
Any efforts to make permanent changes to the Great Highway will go through a thorough public process before they can be approved.
What has the public process been so far?
The following efforts occurred in 2021:
- SFCTA’s District 4 Mobility Study, which studied several options for future use of Great Highway. On March 27, 2021, SFCTA presented their findings, including evaluation of recreational usage, public transit impacts, vehicle traffic impacts, costs and survey responses on the proposed concepts.
- Joint hearing of the Rec and Park Commission and the SFMTA Board on June 10, 2021. You can view the presentation from the hearing here.
- The SFCTA examined the long-term possibilities for the Great Highway’s configuration and presented at the June 22, 2021 Board Meeting. You can view the Great Highway Concepts Evaluation Report here. The San Francisco Transportation Authority authorized the report on July 13, 2021.
Given the recent and proposed changes to the Great Highway, we will use this time to study the use of the Great Highway during its current configuration being used by cars on weekdays and by people walking and biking on weekends, holidays and Friday afternoons. Monitoring pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic while this new configuration is in place will enable SFRPD and SFMTA to better understand how the Great Highway is used by residents and visitors.
We intend to engage in a public effort to recommend a pilot or long-term configuration on a timeline aligned with and informed by current and past configurations, by upcoming projects affecting the Great Highway, and anticipate initiating this work before the end of 2022. We will also consider the emergency order and response to COVID-19 as we move forward.
Other changes to the Great Highway are on the horizon. The Great Highway Extension, which connects Skyline Boulevard and the Upper Great Highway, would close in the event of approval of the proposed South Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project, led by the SFPUC. The project will transform the public shoreline, improve coastal access north of Fort Funston with a new multi-use trail connecting Lake Merced and Fort Funston to Ocean Beach, the Zoo, and the Great Highway. The project will also protect vital municipal infrastructure from coastal erosion.
What about traffic?
In early March, the SFMTA implemented a traffic calming strategy throughout the Outer Sunset, which data shown a reduction in traffic volumes. The SFMTA continues to monitor and analyze the traffic calming strategy as part of the Great Highway and Outer Sunset Traffic Management Project. Additionally, city agencies have partnered with Supervisor Gordon Mar’s office on a D4 Traffic Mobility Study, led by the SFCTA, to explore the long-term future of the Great Highway.
With the Great Highway closed to automobile traffic on weekends and holidays, the best way to travel by car between Lake Merced and Golden Gate Park is to use Sunset Boulevard or 19th Avenue
How is data collected?
RPD uses a set of data sources to inform estimates of visitor counts. A pair of Eco-Counter sensors were installed along the roadway in September 2020, counting all visits on foot, bikes, scooters, skates, e-bikes, skateboards of all types and everything in between. It cannot count cars, buses, or trucks.
How many people have been using the Great Highway for biking and walking?
Nearly 2 million people have used the Great Highway as a place to walk and roll over the past 16 ½ months. In the past year, from July 2020 to June 2021, 1.6 million visits were made to the Great Highway. October 2020 was the most popular month with 228,000 visits
Where are people walking and biking the Great Highway coming from?
Share during Closure
(Dec '20 -
Is the Great Highway a state highway, like Highway 1?
No. The Great Highway is a city roadway under the jurisdiction of San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. California Highway 1 is a State Highway that runs along 19th Ave and Park Presidio Blvd.
The Great Highway was created and designated under San Francisco park jurisdiction in the 1870s as a space for recreation. The broad boulevard was first built in the 1920s, and the current design was built in the 1980s and completed in the 1990s.
Where can I share feedback?
As always, you can send additional comments to email@example.com