San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today introduced legislation to authorize permanent changes to make 1.5 miles of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park car-free. It would also authorize making certain street segments one-way, creating new bicycle facilities, and making additional policy changes to improve access. This closure was implemented nearly two years ago to provide socially distant recreation during the pandemic. Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Matt Haney, and Dean Preston co-sponsored this legislation.
Today’s legislation builds on recent progress to the Golden Gate Park Safety and Access Plan. In a joint hearing Thursday, March 10, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission voted to recommend the proposal to the Board of Supervisors. The Board, who will make the final decision on the project, is expected to vote as soon as next month. Additionally, the City will work to ensure that cultural institutions in Golden Gate Park, including the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, remain accessible to the public. That includes maximizing access to the Music Concourse Garage, including for people with disabilities, and working on improvements to facility delivery access to the de Young Museum.
“I’ve heard from people all over San Francisco that JFK Drive is a better place the way it is today. It is a place people are drawn to and where they can experience the magic of what it means to live in a beautiful city that celebrates open space and has the best park system in the country,’ said Mayor Breed. “The answers we’ve received from the thousands of people who engaged in our outreach process made it clear that there is broad support for this section of JFK Drive remaining closed to vehicle traffic permanently. I’m excited to embrace this new chapter of Golden Gate Park and look forward to our continued work to improve access for seniors, people with disabilities, and those who don’t live nearby.”
The plan follows extensive public outreach and study by SFMTA and Rec and Park. It includes access improvements to Golden Gate Park for seniors and people with mobility challenges and programs to address access from more distant neighborhoods. Additionally, the plan consists of various policy recommendations focused on traffic safety, equity, accessibility, and mobility to Golden Gate Park, which include:
- Vastly improved free shuttle program, launched February 26, adding service on weekdays and increasing the frequency of service on weekends.
- Expanding and improving parking and ADA access with the addition of 28 blue zone spaces near the museums: three on Nancy Pelosi Drive at JFK Drive, five on Martin Luther King Drive south of Music Concourse Drive and 20 new ADA parking spaces in the Golden Gate Bandshell Parking lot, plus re-paving walking surfaces, a new ADA-accessible path to the Japanese Tea Garden, and more ADA improvements such as curb ramps throughout the area. The Bandshell Parking Lot project broke ground Monday, February 28.
- Expanding programs that connect communities of color to the park as well as offering art installations, programming, and performances that reflect the diversity of San Francisco. Starting Wednesday, March 4, and running through November 2022, the Golden Gate Bandshell will host more than 100 free all-age concerts with culturally diverse music and performers.
- Building on the success of Rec and Park’s Junior Guides program, the Department is partnering with community-based organizations to provide residents of equity priority communities free transportation, guided tours, and free access to cultural institutions of Golden Gate Park.
- Implementing flexible pricing in the Music Concourse Garage and working on expanding the Museums for All program for low-income visitors to include free or reduced parking rates along with museum admission.
- Removing restrictions on access to the Music Concourse for anyone to use drop-off and pick-up zones in front of the de Young and the California Academy of Sciences.
- Allowing access at 8th Avenue and Fulton Street for Muni, paratransit, and other authorized vehicles and maintaining emergency vehicle access through the project area.
- Reliability improvements to Muni 29 Sunset, which directly connects communities to the park.
- Adding at least six bike-share stations within Golden Gate Park in 2022.
- Reducing traffic congestion by restoring southbound access from Chain of Lakes to Sunset Boulevard via MLK Drive and restoring access to the Polo Fields parking lot by creating a one-way circulation westbound from Metson Road to Middle Drive.
- Exploring options to better direct drivers to the more than 5,000 parking spaces that remain in the park and increasing awareness of the free 15-minute pick-up/drop off option in the Music Concourse Garage.
“I’ve been a longtime supporter of making our streets safer and more inviting for pedestrians, cyclists, children and other non-motorized users, including JFK Drive,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who serves as Chair of the County Transportation Authority. “We know that the closure to car traffic during the pandemic has already made what had been one of the city’s highest-injury stretches of road much safer, and I’m glad to support this plan to make a safe, kid-friendly JFK Drive a permanent feature of Golden Gate Park.”
“Throughout the pandemic, people of all ages and abilities have had access to car-free JFK, which has enhanced access and safety in Golden Gate Park for all. It’s a wonderful thing for our city that this will continue permanently,” said Supervisor Matt Haney.
“Once a high injury street, JFK Drive is now a safe place for kids to learn to ride their bikes, pedestrians to safely walk, and people from all corners of San Francisco to gather and build community. I remain steadfast in my support of a robust network of safe streets for walking and biking, and Car Free JFK is a critical part of making that a reality. Car-Free JFK will move our city toward a greener, safer future,” said Supervisor Dean Preston.
The Golden Gate Park Safety and Access Program, a joint effort of Rec and Park and SFMTA, engaged with tens of thousands of residents, including 10,000 survey respondents, during the eight-month public outreach process. Robust, multi-lingual outreach was conducted through a virtual open house, pop-up information centers at neighborhood farmers markets and Golden Gate Park, community meetings, and park tours. Outreach spanned five languages and prioritized older adults, people with disabilities, monolingual and communities of color, park visitors and families, park neighbors, and merchant groups.
For more details on the proposal, click here.