Process Begins to Make Car-Free J.F.K. Permanent

J.F.K. Drive for people. Photo: CarFreeJFK
J.F.K. Drive for people. Photo: CarFreeJFK

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Will the eastern half of J.F.K. Drive remain car free? That’s the question behind a new outreach effort, launched Tuesday by SFMTA and Rec and Park, to determine what future people want for Golden Gate Park. From the city’s release:

An extensive public outreach process launched today asks the public to consider a broad range of proposed updates to the car-free route on Golden Gate Park’s John F. Kennedy Drive—from modifying street closures to improving access to mobility services like the park shuttle, bikeshare, scooters, taxis and pedicabs.

The Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, a joint effort of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD) and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), is tasked with finding solutions that balance the need for safe, car-free spaces with the need for access to Golden Gate Park for all visitors, including seniors and the disability community.

Through scheduled online office hours, in-park tours, and the program’s Online Open House and survey, anyone can weigh in on the configuration of closed streets in Golden Gate Park, as well as which new or improved mobility options should be implemented to expand access to the park for everyone.  Outreach also includes virtual open houses on Sept. 30 and Oct. 3 as well as pop up information centers at neighborhood farmer’s markets and in Golden Gate Park every Sunday in October.

“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. It eliminated severe injuries on a segment of our High Injury Network,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin in a statement. “We’re glad to support Rec and Park in their efforts, including ongoing changes that will prioritize access for disabled people, and ensure access for passenger and freight loading, and institutional visitors and employees.”

The city’s outreach mission includes a tour primarily for people with disabilities on October 2, 2021 at 10:30 a.m., hosted by Walk S.F. As Streetsblog has reported previously, albeit satirically, substantial infrastructure to accommodate visitors with disabilities who must arrive by car or taxi already exists in the park, with full, direct access to the museums via the underground parking garage and ramp under J.F.K. from Fulton (see photo below). Walk S.F.’s tour begins at Fulton and Tenth at the entrance to the de Young Museum’s underutilized, 800-space garage.

There is already ADA access via car (or shuttle) to the entrance to the museum, with ramps under J.F.K. drive. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
There is already ADA access via car (or shuttle) to the entrance to the museum, with ramps under J.F.K. drive. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Walk San Francisco is also asking advocates to join their efforts and sign up to help shape the future of J.F.K. drive. From a statement by Walk S.F.’s Jodie Medeiros, explaining the different options now under consideration:

  1. The first option would go back to how things were pre-COVID, with vehicle traffic six days a week.
  2. The second option would allow private vehicles to return to JFK Drive from 8th Avenue to Transverse. This means less than half of what we’ve enjoyed since April 2020 would remain car-free.
  3. The third option is what we have now, but better. A car-free JFK Drive, from Kezar to Transverse Drive, every day – combined with a suite of needed improvements to enhance accessibility.

Streetsblog is going with door number three.

Walk S.F. also asks people to go to the SFMTA survey and web page and make sure to attend outreach meetings to make their opinions known on the optimal future of Golden Gate Park and J.F.K. drive. “This is our chance,” continued Medeiros, “to finally win a JFK Drive for people of every age and ability to walk without fear of dangerous traffic.”

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