Critics: Motorists still cruise park

Number of cars down, but drivers still cutting through

Traffic has decreased along Golden Gate Park’s Concourse, but some say a “pedestrian oasis” promised to residents is yet to be delivered.

A year after measures were taken to reduce the number of cars cutting through the park instead of driving around the perimeter, many drivers still use John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. drives — which connect to Lincoln Way and Fulton Street — as a shortcut.

To fulfill a promise to make the park more pedestrian friendly after residents passed Proposition J in 1998, The City approved a measure to limit traffic to the Concourse — the circular area around the de Young Museum andthe California Academy of Sciences that connects John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. drives — to drivers picking up or dropping off travelers. In June, the Recreation and Park Department, which manages the park, began issuing $103 citations to drivers who use Tea Garden and Music Concourse drives as a shortcut.

“If we are not putting up a wall or a barrier to prevent traffic, we are going to see a few people disobey,” Recreation and Park Department General Manager Yomi Agunbiade said.

Since the new measure was implemented, there has been a 75 percent reduction of traffic on Saturdays and about a 50 percent reduction during the weekdays. In June, the department issued 60 citations for cut-through drivers and since then, in limited enforcement, they have issued another 80 fines, according to Agunbiade. About 80 percent of the cut-through drivers are residents trying to get home to the Sunset district, according to Marilyn Duffy, a consultant hired by The City to educate drivers about the fines.

The Board of Supervisors, which approved of cutting off the area to through traffic in August 2005, said it wanted the department to consider the installation of access control devices or other measures if cut-through traffic was not limited. Despite the reduced traffic, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said one car crossing over is too many.

“We’ve got to let people know this is not any more acceptable than driving the wrong way on a one-way street,” he said. The supervisor said he wants clear signs with “minimal verbiage” on them to help those unfamiliar with the park understand the road cannot be used for a shortcut. He said the signs used to warn drivers that they are not allowed to cut through the area are “impossible” to read and a “mental twist to get through.”

Agunbiade said the way to reduce cut-through traffic without a roadblock is with signage and enforcement. But his department has only five park rangers toissue citations and they are not allowed to pull drivers over for moving violations.

McGoldrick said The City would revisit the issue within 60 days and see if measures, such as installing barriers or building a booth to limit who goes in and out, will eliminate cut-through traffic.

sfarooq@examiner.com Staff Writer Bonnie Eslinger contributed to this story.

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