The ever-popular Great Highway and Golden Gate Park route for Sunday Streets drew thousands of San Franciscans of all ages yesterday with more activities than ever before. For next year, organizer Susan King said that the SFMTA is looking to hold a different, more frequent route.
“The route will use some of the quieter streets that are already off limits to cars or are less used,” said King. “That includes Overlook and Middle Drive [in the park] and negotiating a different pathway along Martin Luther King Drive to get out to the Great Highway.”
She explained that the changes would allow the number of Sunday Streets events on the route to increase from the current two per year up to as many as one per month. It would also be “less intense” for city staff who work the event and allow the Recreation and Parks Department to continue reserving revenue-generating picnic spaces, she said.
“This route is so popular and there’s so much opportunity presented with the Great Highway because it is frequently closed for sand anyway, and because there are no major cross streets once you get through that bottleneck at the Lincoln and Great Highway intersection,” said King. “So we’re looking at doing this route on a regular basis in the coming years.”
The section of the Great Highway along the park between Lincoln Way and Fulton Street may be opened to cars to provide another route for drivers, she said. Vehicles would turn off of Great Highway at Lincoln Way, and the activity center that currently exists at the intersection during events would be more focused in the park.
“Given that there aren’t a lot of ways of getting across the park north and south when you take the Great Highway out of the options for vehicle drivers, it creates a bottleneck on both Crossover Drive and Chain of Lakes, which gets really backed up,” said King.
JFK Drive east of Transverse Drive would still be closed to cars as it has been every Sunday since the 1970s, she said, and organizers are looking to keep it connected to the rest of the Sunday Streets route.
“We are looking at creating a sustainable road opening that requires less resources than we currently expend and maintains access for park users, neighbors, and Sunday Streets partcipants,” said King. “That’s the balancing act.”