Golden Gate Park JFK Bikeway Project Delayed Until December 2011

A rendering of the JFK Drive bikeway. Image: ##

The expected construction of a physically-separated bikeway along a stretch of John F. Kennedy (JFK) Drive in Golden Gate Park will now come no sooner than December, according to a report from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA).

“All parties involved in the project recognize that they underestimated the complexity of the planning and design process…and agree that additional planning and design work is needed to move the project forward,” said a resolution [pdf] adopted by the SFCTA Board today which granted further planning funds to the SFMTA, the agency overseeing the project.

It was originally expected to be completed in December 2010 but the SFCTA now projects a full year of delay in the implementation schedule, with several different timeline and cost scenarios laid out. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), which has been working with the various city agencies to prioritize the project, had hoped to see the project done by this spring.

One reason for the delay, according the report, is an expansion of the project’s scope. Initially, it only involved the section of JFK Drive from 8th Avenue to Transverse Drive, but it now includes bike facilities along the more complicated stretch east to Stanyan Street at end of the park.

The report says concerns were raised in the planning process including the safety of intersection designs, accommodations for shuttle loading to serve disabled visitors, and the removal of parking spots.

Engineers are also exploring multiple design options, including two one-way cycle tracks on either side of the road. Additional treatment options, including a “slurry” roadway seal and pavement coloring, wouldn’t go in until August and October 2012, respectively. Total construction costs range from $400,000 to $1,000,000.

“The devil’s always in the details,” said Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) Director of Policy and Public Affairs Sarah Ballard, who highlighted the need to develop a bikeway design that could be easily replicated for further expansion.

“The next goal would be to replicate [this project] throughout JFK all the way to the beach, and eventually fill in a more robust vision where you could bike between our 224 neighborhood parks on a separated bike lane on the streets,” said Ballard.

The SFBC has been working with the SFMTA and the RPD to get the cycle track implemented as the first piece of its Connecting the City vision for a network of safe crosstown bikeways. The project aims to create the first section of a “Bay to Beach” route welcoming enough for everyone from ages eight to eighty to ride on.


    PLEASE no two-way path on one side. Consider kids jumping out of car into painted buffer and crossing two bike lanes in both directions. Prospect Park path is nice and a road diet menu but is a huge compromise and should not be a design model. Both the visualizations of this design and actual practice in PP show problems with passing. Do the one path per side and allow room for two-abreast/cargo bike + bike plus passing space. Not enough space? Get rid of one line of parking, at least. Allow faster cyclists to use main part of road. ….

  • Anonymous

    Space for passing is extremely important. Otherwise, the lanes will become dangerously congested.

  • MAB

    I strongly support the separate paths on both sides of the street. We need to accommodate not only recreational cyclists riding side by side through the park, but serious commuters as well!

  • Anonymous

    We need bike racks in the park! I frequently ride with my daughter to the skating area (just off JFK Dr. by 6th Ave) to practice skating (especially on Sundays when JFK is closed to motor vehicles) but bike parking there is a bitch!


    MAB, don’t you think most “commuters” would prefer to use the center part of the road? It will be safer for both they and slower cyclists (think children) and has the additional effect of calming drivers a bit. An alternative could be really wide bike paths, which would mean no parking (fine by me, and special zones for loading and disabled parking are necessary) and an only-wide enough space for cars to drive 30mph or whatever, and perhaps no cyclists in the middle. This would be the design in NL, I think, but I prefer letting cyclists ride where they want.

    The devil will be the intersections and turning left. Having bike paths makes this more complicated.

    What are the current speed limits in GGP?

  • taomom

    Sigh. It’s fine that the project’s scope has been expanded, but because there is little actual physical infrastructure to go in here (mostly it’s a matter of paint and soft hit posts) I don’t see why large sections couldn’t be put in quickly even if other parts haven’t been completely figured out. I guarantee that whatever is ultimately put in will be modified shortly thereafter based on user feedback (not unlike Market Street), so let’s get going already. It does not have to be perfect to do a great deal of good.

    New York has put in similar two-way side by side bike lanes that are physically separated from road traffic, and they are quite successful in creating a pleasant, safe riding experience appreciated by all kinds of bicyclists. There is generally plenty of room to pass (one can even move into the left hand bike lane for few seconds if there’s no oncoming bike traffic.) Of course I would expect the two-way bike lanes to be wider than the current two lanes in the Panhandle, although this lack of width is exacerbated extremely by having to share the space with pedestrians as well as the presence of a few tight curves. (Think about it–if there were no pedestrians on the Panhandle path, would passing ever be that much of a problem?) During commute hours on JFK, it is not children or pedestrians that give me problems, it’s the cars maniacally parking without regard to bicyclists and buses parking where they are not supposed to (i.e. in front of the conservatory.) By making it impossible for cars to cross the bikeway, physically-separated bike lanes will make the lane safe enough for everyone to use.

    There is already too much free parking in GG Park which encourages people from all over the Bay Area to bring their cars to the city. Since the city seems incapable of installing meters in GG Park even when approved, eliminating parking spaces to accommodate bike lanes is a win-win all around. In addition, the speed limit for cars everywhere in GG Park should be 15mph. It is, after all, a park. “Serious” cyclists, the one percent of the population concerned that the odd child or two will delay them hours at a time, could then bike with the cars.

  • AoT

    Unfortunately, once a bike lane goes in the actual road becomes incredibly more hostile to cyclist. I’ve almost been run down multiple times when not using an existing bike lane due to safety issues.

  • Fireplacetv

    I’ve been commuting along JFK somewhat regularly heading West from Stanyan to around the museum area. My experience has been that JFK at mid-morning on a weekdays seems perfectly safe as it is. The lane is wide enough to share with car traffic while avoiding the door zone, and the pavement is in good shape which makes it easier to ride there than in a dedicated bike lane with potholes and other obstacles (eg, Townsend’s new bike lane). So I think a dedicated bike lane on JFK might be nice, but I’d rather have new lanes and road improvements elsewhere first (in general, I’d prefer repaving bad roads to striping new bike lanes if forced to choose).

    As removing parking entirely, I’m not opposed to that, but I wonder if that might have a net negative impact on park services in the long run if drivers are discouraged from using the park.

  • Nick

    Doyle Drive- $1.5 billion.

    They could have “built” 3750 of these bikeways with that money (@400k a pop).

    One is kind of a lot of trouble. Let’s just wait it out another year.

  • chris

    I typically ride my bike on JFK a couple of times a week. I would put it pretty low on the list of city streets that need bike lanes. In addition, although I”m not familiar with the details of this particular project, the rendering posted here makes it look pretty (and maybe needlessly?) complicated.


    Chris, are you eight years old and new to cycling? Are you 80 years old and a little frail? Even (as Taomom suggests) there is a 15mph limit – which would mean there would be no separation in most design philosophies – subjective safety is a little under-considered by most people comfortable with cycling near any cars.

  • taomom

    I would agree with comments that this is not the place that needs safe, physically-separated bike lanes the most. (I would certainly argue for the Three Blocks of Terror from Baker to Scott needing attention immediately and I’m sure others have their favorites.) As I remember, the rationale originally was that this was easy to do, could be put in immediately, and would get the Connect the City program off to a running start. So much for that.

    For all those who feel bike lanes aren’t necessary, for you they probably aren’t. You’re riding, right? But look at all the people around you who aren’t. If we want to increase San Francisco’s bicycling numbers out of the single digits, other cities have shown that the way to do this is to put in physically-separated infrastructure that makes bicycling pleasant. Not just not imminently dangerous. Pleasant.

    Pleasant means no nasty fumes to breathe, no large noisy objects roaring at your elbow, no maniac drivers of large noisy objects ready to clean you out at any second (even if they rarely do so.) Pleasant means being alert but also being able to relax and enjoy the scenery. Pleasant means not fearing for your children’s lives with every tiny wobble they make. Pleasant means that on a bicycle you are able to take the shortest, flattest, most direct route to your destination possible, and when you get there park with ease and assurance that your bike will not be stripped of parts that are sold for meth hits in your absence.

    Currently bicycling in San Francisco requires quick reflexes, constant alertness, and nerves of steel. You may have these qualities in spades. You may find competing with cars when you bicycle fun (exciting!) and think everyone else is just a timid crybaby who would enjoy life more if they didn’t worry so much. But demanding everyone be like you by objecting to bike lanes prevents the majority of the population from considering bicycling at all.

    Five years ago I tried bicycling in San Francisco and found it so unpleasant that after two weeks I stopped. Two years ago I tried again, and there was just enough bicycle infrastructure that I was able to continue. (It passed my pleasant threshold.) For 99% of my peers (women in their 40s and 50s) bicycling is still way, way below their pleasant threshold. When you see these women out of their cars and onto bikes (as they are in Holland and Denmark), you’ll know we’ve done enough.


    All great points but what is SF doing about “nasty fumes”? Promoting electric vehicles with energy only from renewables? And regarding “direct” what about all the one-way streets which have other problems besides hampering direct journeys?

  • Johnriley1

    There is _already_ a separate path in this area for people who are not comfortable with riding in the street. Many of the issues with the existing path will exist with the new one; strollers, peds, etc. Bikes are restricted from ped paths, but not the other way around. If you kept peds off the EXISTING bike path, it would be fine. This new path is a waste of resources.

    You want a project, how about a north end connection so you can get from the Marina or North Point to the main section of Polk without having to climb half way up Russian Hill. Removing the parking from the west side of Van Ness from Bay to Green would allow room for a south bound bike lane.

  • taomom

    The separation a physically-separated bike lane gives from cars significantly reduces the nasty fumes one has to breathe as a bicyclist. Even the few extra feet away from car tailpipes that a standard, measly SF bike lane provides is a big improvement.

  • taomom

    There is no existing bike path along JFK. There is a pedestrian path that may say it’s for bikes but it is not at all. It’s quite narrow and filled with pedestrians who aren’t expecting you and who really, really, really don’t want you there. I rode that path once along JFK and have never received so many dirty looks even though I was riding at a sedate pace. For small children with training wheels with their parent walking along beside them it may be okay.

  • guest

    Greenidea: This was a project worth trying as is. Now it’s starting to remind me of the debacle over ill-fated Noe/24th parklet–the more it gets talked about, the more people come out of the woodwork to poke holes in the plan. There’s a very very good reason why the planners here were trying not to remove any parking at all.

    AoT: Come on, we’re talking about JFK Drive, not Pine or San Jose Ave or something. Context is important.

  • guest

    Yeah, keep dreaming on the Van Ness thing, dude. Have you read anything about how long it’s taking to even start planning BRT along there? I can’t imagine it helps that Van Ness is U.S. Highway 101. Did you notice that Polk is a designated bike route, 1 block to the east, and flatter?

    If you think the path going through the grass, removed by curb from the street, in GG Park is appropriate for cycling….well, I think you must have not actually spent any time in that park at all.

  • mikesonn

    Couple things: I agree separated bike facilities are needed for the 8 to 80 crowd. However, I feel there needs to be lane markings saying that bikes are still allowed and encouraged to use the traffic lane as well. Also, why are cars going any faster then 15 mph? It is a park and should be treated as such. I also think that means posting 10 mph signs and having markings and speed bumps since 15 mph is usually treated as 25 mph (just like 25 mph is treated like 30-35 mph) – 20 is plenty!

    And there will be joggers using the separated bike lane so there should be a discussion on how to address that. Just like cyclists use the pedestrian paths, we need to have a rational discussion as to how to handle this. Do we just accept it as the status quo or do we try to educate users? Maybe have some SFBC volunteers out for a couple hours on the weekend to talk to people in a calm and respectful manor? Just an idea that should be done all over the city at random times. I think many people don’t know they are being “jerks” (reference to the NYC marketing campaign) and maybe some education will go a long way.

    And I guess I still fail to see why this project is being pushed over other more needed ones, especially now that the time frame (which I thought was the main reason – ease and quickness of implementation) is now a moot point. However, any and all improvements are welcome and I’d love to see this coupled with better parking management in the park to reduce over all traffic which would be better for all park users.

  • Johnriley1

    The trail on the south side of JFK is designated for bikes, and the trail on the north side is designated for peds. The designation is pretty subtle and no one ever enforces rules about where peds can and can’t be, which would be the place to start.

    In the absence of such enforcement, the the people who park on the north side of JFK will use this NEW lane as an additional ped path.

    RE Van Ness: Dude, you have obviously never ridden the south on the north end of Polk street. The designated route is Francisco to Polk and then south on Polk, but that is a big climb from Francisco and Van Ness to Polk and Greenwich. Even worse from North Point.

    Dude, re Golden Gate park, I ride in the street on JFK. The path is IMO appropriate for those who aren’t comfortable in the street, assuming more is done to keep the peds off it. Even though it is designated for bikes, there is nothing done to keep peds off it at this time. I thought removed from the street traffic was the whole idea.

  • Cbizzy

    Two one-way bike lanes is far better for cyclists.

  • Remind me why there’s a dire need for cars IN the park? I can see a few inlets for suburban visitors parking, but roads through the park? Come on. We solve the tailpipe fumes / breathability issue by keeping cars on the outside. Anyone been to NYC? Central Park has moved in the right direction, with extremely limited vehicle access. Let’s do the same. Fulton & Lincoln are for east/west car traffic, Great Hwy, Route 1, and Stanyan are for north/south car traffic. The park is for people.


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