San Francisco city officials are seeking input from residents on plans to make updates to the car-free route along Golden Gate Park’s John F. Kennedy Drive.
The city first made most of JFK Drive between Transverse and Kezar drives carless back at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure space for social distancing for people walking, jogging and cycling.
Since then, the car-free route has become wildly popular, with San Francisco Recreation and Park officials seeing a 36 percent increase in recreational use along the street compared to pre-pandemic numbers. Additionally, the car-free initiative also brought serious injury collisions along the street to zero — compared to more than 50 such collisions over the previous five years.
Due to its success and in an effort to better serve residents, officials with Rec and Park, as well as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, are now looking for ways to improve the route.
Through the agencies’ joint Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, residents will be able to provide feedback through an online open house, scheduled online office hours, virtual open-houses, pop-up information centers, and in-park tours.
Specifically, the program asks residents about options for JFK Drive and other park streets, including making the current closures permanent; reverting back to pre-pandemic configuration; or providing managed vehicle access to the park with limited vehicle access on JKF between Eighth Avenue and Tansverse Drive for westbound traffic only.
Additionally, proposed new services at the park to increase usability and access include, among others, establishing American Disabilities Act-accessible parking spaces; establishing taxi stands at the Music Concourse; creating a drop-off zone inside the Concourse garage; upgrading existing park shuttle service; expanding bikeshare and scootershare services at the park; allowing pedicab service; and modifying intersections to improve safety and traffic congestion.
“Public feedback is critical to determining the post-pandemic future of JFK Drive and we are eager to hear your thoughts and experiences,” San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said in a statement. “Golden Gate Park belongs to everyone, so neither safety nor access can be an afterthought.”
“Golden Gate Park’s car-free route was designed to create safe recreational space during COVID. It turned out to be a major attractor, bringing more people to the park, serving commuters between the Sunset and downtown, and creating safe space for kids to learn to ride,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin.
Details are online about virtual information sessions, upcoming park tours and in-person events. Additionally, visitors can check out the virtual open house, which runs through November 25.