Let’s talk about race and car-free JFK

Aerial view of a car-free JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park showing people biking and walking in the street and on the sidewalk paths.

At the March 23 San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) Board meeting, made up of our eleven Board of Supervisors, two supervisors critiqued the closure of JFK Drive to cars and its harmful impacts to Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) living in the southeast of San Francisco.

Supervisors Walton and Safai’s comments are not unfounded. Due to harmful redevelopment practices in the 1970s and “redlining,” many BIPOC families have been displaced to some of the most geographically distant neighborhoods like the Excelsior, Bayview-Hunters Point, and beyond. And while there have been successes at increasing Muni service, like the successful efforts to bring back the 15-Third Muni line led by Black community leaders in the Bayview, Muni service to connect these neighborhoods to destinations like Golden Gate Park lacks reliability and convenience.

Access to car-free JFK Drive must be equitable — and we believe it can be.

As your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, keeping JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park permanently closed to cars and open to people is imperative. The pandemic has shown us just how important the car-free space is for people to experience the joy of fresh air and community, whether on JFK, the Great Highway, or John F. Shelley Drive.

As we fight to preserve car-free space on JFK Drive, we have a unique opportunity to make the park more accessible to BIPOC folks. Over the summer, the City will be conducting a public outreach process to determine the future of car-free space on JFK Drive — and we’re pushing to ensure that this process actively includes BIPOC communities, districts further from the park like D10 and D11, and people with disabilities. We believe that reforming the mismanaged Music Concourse Garage, improving Muni service to the park with the 44 and 29 Muni lines, and making the existing shuttle more frequent and reliable are important first steps.

The future of San Francisco must include safe, equitable, and joyous places like car-free JFK Drive and we’re committed to doing the work to make this happen.

Sign our petition to the SFCTA board to ensure that the City creates an accessible and equitable car-free JFK for years to come.

You can also share your experiences on car-free JFK using #KeepItSlow on Instagram and Twitter.

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