SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency today announced their recommendation that John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park remain vehicle-free. The proposal, which follows extensive public outreach and study, includes access improvements to Golden Gate Park for seniors and people with mobility challenges, as well as programs to address access from more distant neighborhoods.
The Golden Gate Park Safety and Access Program proposals will be presented Thursday, March 10 at a joint informational hearing of the Recreation and Park Commission and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which will ultimately decide the road’s future is expected to vote on the proposal as soon as April 2022.
The recommendations include making permanent the 3-mile stretch of car-free streets in the park from Lincoln Way to Kezar Drive, including JFK Drive. These streets closed nearly two years ago to provide socially distant recreation during the pandemic. Additional proposals include a variety of policy recommendations focused on traffic safety, equity, accessibility, and mobility to Golden Gate Park. They include:
- A vastly improved free shuttle program, launched Feb. 26, adding service on weekdays and increasing the frequency of service on weekends. Based on extensive community feedback, the route was made more useful by connecting directly to Muni on Haight Street and extending to Stow Lake. Additional improvements include making shuttle information easier to find and use online, upgrading vehicles for comfort, and adding seating, shelters, and informational signage at stops.
- Improving the Golden Gate Bandshell Parking lot including the addition of 20 new ADA parking spaces, re-paving walking surfaces, a new ADA-accessible path to the Japanese Tea Garden, and more ADA improvements such as curb ramps throughout the area. The project broke ground Monday, Feb. 28.
- Ensuring Golden Gate Park is a welcoming place for all by expanding programs that connect Black and brown communities to the park as well as offering art installations, programming and performances that reflect the diversity of the city. Starting Wednesday, March 4 and running through November 2022, the Golden Gate Bandshell will host more than 100 free all-age concerts with culturally diverse music and performers.
- Building on the success of Rec and Park’s Junior Guides program, the Department is partnering with community-based organizations to provide residents of equity priority communities free transportation, guided tours, and free access to cultural institutions of Golden Gate Park.
- Working with the Music Concourse Garage to implement flexible pricing and expand the Museums for All program for low-income visitors to include free or reduced parking rates along with museum admission.
- Improving signage to clarify directions, drop off and access to loading zones.
- Removing restrictions on access to the Music Concourse for anyone to use drop-off and pick-up zones in front of both the de Young and the California Academy of Sciences.
- Allowing access at 8th Avenue and Fulton Street for Muni, paratransit, and other authorized vehicles and maintaining emergency vehicle access through the project area.
- Reliability improvements to Muni 29 Sunset, which directly connects communities of color to the park.
- Expanding and improving parking and ADA access with the addition of 28 blue zone spaces near the museums: three on Nancy Pelosi Drive at JFK Drive, five on Martin Luther King Drive south of Music Concourse Drive, and 20 in the Bandshell parking lot. This increases the number of spaces for people with disabilities near the museums from the time before the road closures by ten.
- Adding at least six bikeshare stations within Golden Gate Park in 2022. The proposal also includes exploring fun ways to get around such as pedicab service.
- Reducing traffic congestion by restoring southbound access from Chain of Lakes to Sunset Boulevard via MLK Drive and restoring access to the Polo Fields parking lot by creating a one-way circulation westbound from Metson Road to Middle Drive.
- Exploring options to better direct drivers to the more than 5,000 parking spaces that remain in the park and increasing awareness of the free 15-minute pick-up/drop off option in the Music Concourse Garage.
- Simplifying getting to Golden Gate Park from every neighborhood, whether traveling by foot, bike, transit, or car through travel information and advice, including parking availability.
- Continuing to monitor traffic and parking conditions in surrounding neighborhoods.
- Continuing to allow paratransit, deliveries, maintenance vehicles and other permitted vehicles.
The Golden Gate Park Safety and Access Program, a joint effort of Rec and Park and SFMTA, engaged with more than 10,000 people during the eight-month public outreach process.
Robust, multi-lingual outreach was conducted through a virtual open house, pop-up information centers at neighborhood farmers markets and Golden Gate Park, community meetings and park tours. Outreach spanned five languages and prioritized older adults, people with disabilities, monolingual and communities of color, park visitors and families, park neighbors and merchant groups.
In an online survey, approximately 90 percent of respondents were San Francisco residents. In total, 70 percent expressed support keeping JFK Drive car-free. People from every ethnic background expressed majority support for the car-free option, as did all groups under 65. Respondents expressed overwhelming support for improvements such as increased shuttle service, bikeshare, and access to the Music Concourse Garage.
“Golden Gate Park belongs to everyone. Based on extensive outreach we are making significant access improvements to the park along with this recommendation” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “The goal of the proposal is a park that’s safe, welcoming, and easy to access no matter how you travel.”
“Before COVID, JFK was a street with some of the highest traffic injury rates in the City, and was used mainly for cut-through traffic,” said SFMTA Transportation Director Jeffrey Tumlin. “We look forward to presenting a plan that addresses all the concerns we’ve heard, including expanded disabled parking, improved safety, and improved access for all modes.”
For more details on the proposal, click here.