Bicycle Parking for Golden Gate Park’s Gardens and Museums

Golden Gate Park's underground parking structure has dedicated bike racks--but they're unpublicized and hidden

One of several bike parking locations in the Music Concourse Garage in Golden Gate Park. Photos submitted by advocates
One of several bike parking locations in the Music Concourse Garage in Golden Gate Park. Photos submitted by advocates

Editor’s note: on July 19, I set out to gather information for a post about bicycle parking for the de Young museum and nearby Golden Gate Park attractions. As reported, things didn’t go as planned, and I crashed my bike on an unsafe grate at the Music Concourse garage parking lot. This post is more or less what I had set out to report on that day. 

“Bicycles and skateboards are prohibited in the garage for safety reasons,” wrote Jan Berckefeldt, President and Managing Director of Music Concourse Community Partnership, which manages Golden Gate Park’s 800-space underground parking garage, in an email sent late last month. That email was in response to my crash on a drainage grate near the bottom of the Fulton Street ramp into the garage.

Berckefeldt’s statement belies the fact that there is bicycle parking inside the structure. However, it is in odd, poorly lit locations, and there is little signage, as seen in the photos.

One of three parking locations for bikes inside the garage where its management says bikes are banned
One of the parking locations for bikes inside the garage where management says bikes are banned. There is little directing cyclists to this location, and the sign is dark, unlit, and almost impossible to spot from any distance.

Bicycle parking is required by the foundational documents of the garage, which is located between the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. From Proposition J, Adopted on June 2, 1998, the legislation that authorized the garage’s construction:

The Underground Parking Facility shall include bicycle parking facilities meeting the applicable requirements set forth in Section 155 et seq. of Part II, Chapter II of the San Francisco Municipal Code (the Planning Code).

Another of the un-publicized bike parking locations in the garage
Another of the unpublicized bike parking locations in the garage. Note one side of the sign is blocked from view by the pillar.

Streetsblog, with the help of bicycle advocates, was able to identify several bike parking locations in the garage. The picture below was included in an email sent to employees of the de Young museum. Note how difficult this would be to find, hidden behind an ATM, without the instructions:

Screenshot from 2022-08-02 15-22-52

A legacy web page for the de Young and other institutions in the park also mentions the bike parking and suggests guests access it from the Fulton Street or MLK ramps:

WheretoParkforDeyoung

But its current web page has had all specific guidance for cyclists removed from it. Instead, there is a lot of information about the De Young’s opposition to the JFK Promenade.

In contrast, nearby Cal Academy still offers bike directions and encourages cycling, albeit without mentioning the Music Concourse garage as an option. The Rec and Park website and the Music Concourse websites also include no mention of bicycle parking in the garage.

The Japanese Tea Garden and the Botanical Garden‘s current pages, on the other hand, direct cyclists to the garage and instruct people to access it via the ramps. From the Botanical’s website:

Screenshot from 2022-08-04 13-25-28

Meanwhile, some time after my crash, garage management added a sign banning bicycles from the Fulton Street entrance, as seen below:

The deadly grate circled in blue. The sign banning bikes circled in red.
The deadly grate circled in blue. Note there’s a second set of grates farther down the ramp. The sign banning bikes is circled in red.

Additional bike-ban signs have been added inside the garage as well, although it’s less clear when those went up. As to the deadly grates, seen above circled in blue and below, they still have the same tire-grabbing gaps that caused my crash.

My wheel fell in this space between the grates, catapulting me over my handlebars and into the concrete
My wheel fell into the space between the grates to the right of my shoe, catapulting me over my handlebars and into the concrete

There is also some surface bike parking, such as these posts on the sidewalk in front of the de Young museum.

There's also some above ground museum parking, such as these posts in front of the de Young.

As previously reported, the de Young Museum has complained that its visitor numbers have not rebounded since the pandemic subsided. They blame the creation of the J.F.K. Promenade, which is now closed to private automobiles. However, this same logic doesn’t seem to apply to nearby park attractions. The SF Botanical Garden, in fact, has seen record-breaking visitor levels over the last two years.

bad signage
That tiny orange square in front of the parked minivan is actually a sign directing cyclists where to park in the garage.

Regardless, all the park attractions could probably bring in more visitors by better publicizing the availability of sheltered bike parking in the Music Concourse garage. The garage should also add clear signage and real way-finding to the bicycle parking.

But, of course, first Berckefeldt needs to lift her illegal bike ban, modify or replace the dangerous Fulton Street ramp grates with ones that conform to state and city design standards, and make the garage safe and accessible to all users.

Special thanks to Parker Day and all the advocates who contributed to this post!

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

It’s Not That Hard to Find People Who Like the JFK Bikeway

|
Much has been made about the “strangeness” of San Francisco’s first parking-protected bike lane in Golden Gate Park, which employs the type of design that other American cities are increasingly using to improve safety and raise bicycling rates. As someone who lives next to Golden Gate Park, I’ve been going out of my way to […]

Costly New Parking Garages Still Gobbling Up Land at BART Stations

|
BART continues to encourage the construction of multi-story parking garages at its stations, despite the exorbitant costs and lost potential for valuable land that could be put to better use. On Monday, Oakland and BART officials held a press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony to tout the opening of a 481-space parking structure at MacArthur BART station. […]

Detailed Polk Street Designs: Plans for Safe Bicycling Still “Lackluster”

|
The SFMTA and the Planning Department presented detailed plans for Polk Street at the project’s final open house meeting yesterday. The new aspects include specific locations of bulb-outs, dedicated bicycle signals, left turn prohibitions, loading zones, and new trees and landscaping. Plans to improve bicycle infrastructure are still composed of a mix of protected, buffered, […]