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
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.
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).
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:
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:
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:
Meanwhile, some time after my crash, garage management added a sign banning bicycles from the Fulton Street entrance, as seen below:
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.
There is also some surface bike parking, such as these posts on the sidewalk in front of the de Young museum.
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.
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!