Understanding community sentiment to determine the Great Highway's future

The Great Highway is a four-lane roadway connecting the Richmond District to the Sunset District along the Pacific Ocean. Bordering the highway is Ocean Beach which provides vital recreational access to local residents. During the COVID-19 pandemic, San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) Commissioner Gordon Mar requested that a segment of the Great Highway be converted temporarily into a promenade for residents to enjoy. With cars blocked off, the Great Highway was widely used for biking, walking, skating and other outdoor activities. With co:census, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority launched a survey to explore different options for how the Great Highway could be transformed in the long-term future. 

Exploring different concepts

SFCTA collaborated with co:census to create a survey to understand community sentiment around the long-term future of the Great Highway. The survey presented four different roadway configuration options for feedback and asked questions about priorities for the highway. Respondents accessed the survey through SMS text in four languages, including English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish and Filipino. In December 2020, co:census launched the SFCTA D4 Great Highway survey. After three months, the survey closed in January 2021 and engaged a total of 1,863 people. 

SFCTA also administered a web/online version of the survey which received 2,126 responses.

Analyzing community sentiment

After analyzing the combined survey data (from SMS and web/online formats), SFCTA found that 53% of respondents cited a full promenade as their preferred future for the Great Highway. Returning to a four-lane highway was the second most cited preference, with 21% of respondents choosing that option. When asked their priorities for the Great Highway, the highest priority cited by respondents was bicycle and pedestrian access, followed by community benefit/recreation, vehicle access, and bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Defining the Great Highway's future

Through using co:census, SFCTA was able to provide an inclusive and an alternative way to engage community residents who might not have access to the internet. Since the closing of the survey, SFCTA has summarized the text survey insights, which were aggregated with web/online survey insights into the Great Highway Concepts Evaluation Report

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