A cyclist heads down the new Slow Streets section at the intersection of Middle Drive and Overlook Drive in Golden Gate Park on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

From the Panhandle to Ocean Beach on car-free roads

New Golden Gate Park road closures create more space for people

Golden Gate Park closed more of its roads to cars on Friday, creating an East-West pathway running all the way from the Panhandle to Ocean Beach.

Portions of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Transverse Drive and Middle Drive will be closed to motorists to open up more space for people looking to get outside, recreate or travel by micromobility. It will also create safer pathways for people pushing strollers or using wheelchairs.

“Golden Gate Park is a park, and we want people to think of it that way, not as a freeway,” Recreation and Parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg said at the opening of the newly car-free roadway Friday.

Executed in partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, the closures meet the broader network of Slow Streets that ultimately aim to connect Ocean Beach to the Ferry Building.

“During COVID, it is more important than ever that families have safe places to be able to exercise outdoors, where they don’t have to be afraid of cars and where they have plenty of room in order to remain socially distant […],” SFMTA Executive Director Jeffrey Tumlin said.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director Jeffrey Tumlin rides a bicycle along the new Slow Streets section near Crossover and Overlook drives in Golden Gate Park on Friday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Both agency leaders emphasized the project is experimental, calling it a chance to try something new, learn from the outcomes and make real-time adjustments as needed.

If any of the changes are to be made permanent, they will undergo an environmental review process and be subject to public hearings.

They’re also temporary, and they must be wrapped up within 100 days of the local emergency declaration ending.

Motorists can still drive through the park from north to south using the open portion of Transverse Drive, Chain of Lakes Drive, and 25th Avenue/Crossover Drive/19th Avenue/Park Presidio.

Ginsburg and Tumlin said access for those looking to spend time in Golden Gate Park won’t be compromised. Instead, the closures will keep cars choosing to use the park as a cut-through off of areas frequented by non-drivers and on designated roads.

cgraf@sfexaminer.com

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Cyclists ride at Middle Drive and Metson Road, which will be closed to vehicles as part of a new Slow Streets section in Golden Gate Park. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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