In April, Mayor London Breed announced that the eastern half of JFK Drive would become car-free, providing people a place to enjoy the outdoors while remaining socially distant in Golden Gate Park, our city’s premier open space. Five months later, we’ve seen incredible and predicted success: There are six times more people biking in the park and the number of people enjoying the park as pedestrians has doubled.
Now, we have even more to celebrate. After decades of advocacy, San Franciscans can enjoy a fully car-free route from the Panhandle to Ocean Beach.
Since the start of the pandemic, our members have advocated that car-free spaces in Golden Gate Park must be a priority for the Parks Commission and included as a part of the City’s Slow Streets program in order to provide space for people to be outdoors and have space to socially distance. Now, these new additions allow people to travel from the existing car-free eastern segment of JFK Drive, through Overlook and Middle Drive, and onto the car-free western segment of MLK Drive.
At a press conference on September 18, Phil Ginsburg, the head of the SF Recreation and Parks Department, shared preliminary data showing the remarkable increase in biking and walking. He further noted that before the pandemic, 85% of all the people driving in Golden Gate Park did not start or stop at a destination in the park, meaning they were merely using the roads to cut through. “That is not what a park is about,” said Ginsburg. “[We now have] an opportunity to really understand, appreciate, and elevate what parks are really for — places for people to enjoy.”
Our city’s open space is made for people to bike, walk, roll, and recreate freely. Your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition continues to advocate for the expansion of car-free spaces and to ensure that people in all neighborhoods can enjoy our City’s new programs like Slow Streets and Shared Spaces.
Push our work for more car-free spaces and a more bikeable San Francisco forward by joining as a member or renewing your membership today.