Finally, a JFK Drive for People

City to close JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park and John F. Shelley Drive in John McLaren Park to traffic

Photo: Walk SF's twitter
Photo: Walk SF's twitter

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A portion of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park will be made available for pedestrians, cyclists, joggers and others who want to get out and get some exercise, starting tomorrow/Tuesday, April 28 at 6 a.m., when it will be closed to cars. John F. Shelley Drive in John McLaren Park will also be closed to vehicles throughout the duration of San Francisco’s Stay Home Order.

“We know that people need to go outside, whether to get exercise or just clear their head, and closing JFK and Shelley Drive to cars will make it easier for people who choose to leave their home to stay six feet apart from others,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed, in a statement issued today. “That said, we all need to work together to keep slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Everyone must continue to stay home as much as possible and follow all public health recommendations.”

The stay-at-home order, meanwhile, has been extended for the six county Bay Area through the end of May.

“Getting outdoors supports our physical and mental health,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health for San Francisco. “We need to continue to do it safely. Springtime weather and our extended Stay Home Order make it tempting to gather outdoors, but to protect each other from the coronavirus we need to keep up San Francisco’s good work: staying six feet away from anyone outside our households and covering our faces.”

The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department is closing the same stretch that is normally closed on Sundays. As to Shelley Drive in McLaren Park, “The gates at Cambridge and Mansell Streets will be locked, closing the entire Shelley Drive loop to vehicles.”

Advocates, were happy to see this much-needed change.

Streetsblog readers will recall that advocates launched a petition last month to get JFK closed to cars, and opened for safe recreating, walking and cycling during the shelter in place order. The idea was originally spurned by city officials, but a source close to the mayor told Streetsblog the idea was sound and advocates both outside and inside the administration kept it on the agenda.

“Thanks so much to our members for pushing and speaking up time and time again for what our city needs right now,” wrote the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, in a post. “We’re grateful to so many people like you who have spoken out with us for safe, car-free space on JFK Drive–and on streets across our city–during shelter-in-place,” added Walk San Francisco’s Jodie Medeiros.

“Now more than ever, San Franciscans are relying on our parks and urban trails to relieve stress and give a sense of familiarity during this unprecedented time,” said Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. “Parks aren’t a luxury; they are a necessity.”

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