After more than a year of activism and editorializing, everyday San Franciscans finally have the opportunity to weigh in on the long-term fate of John F. Kennedy Drive and other car-free streets in Golden Gate Park.
On Wednesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department began a public outreach process asking for feedback on several possible interventions to improve access to the park, including three options related to private car access on JFK Drive.
The first option would retain the pandemic-era car free route across the length of the park, including the eastern portion of JFK, and the western halves of Middle Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Another option would reopen westbound traffic on JFK between Eighth Avenue and Transverse Drive. The “no project option” would have all the streets in the park revert to their pre-pandemic configurations.
According to city estimates, about 75 percent of car traffic on JFK was cut through, heading to destinations outside of the park. Since the full-time closure, that section has seen a 36 percent increase in visitors. However, the closure led to a decrease in parking, including Americans With Disabilities Act parking, and generated complaints about access to the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the California Academy of Sciences.
As part of the study, city officials are also considering how alternative mobility can enhance access to the park, which could include improving the Golden Gate Park shuttle, permitting pedicab service on car-free streets, and adding taxi stands at the Museum Concourse and allowing them to use the Eighth Avenue park entrance. There are also proposals to increase two-wheeled transportation options in the park, potentially allowing scooter sharing services and adding 10 docked bike share stations.
Finally, city officials are exploring ways to better utilize the Museum Concourse garage, which has entrances on both MLK Drive, near the Ninth Avenue park entrance in the Sunset, and on Fulton Street in the Richmond. That could mean improved signage, dynamic pricing that takes into account how full the garage is, and 15 minutes of free access to allow for pickups and dropoffs.
Park enthusiasts can learn about these proposals and more on the project’s “story map,” which describes the options in detail and then provides a survey. There will also be virtual events on Sept. 30 and Oct. 3, where SFMTA and Park and Rec staff will present and listen to feedback. Staff will set up informational tables at several upcoming community events throughout The City.
The agencies hope to finalize their analysis by sometime early next year, at which point they will present their recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for approval.