Golden Gate Park

Supervisor Concerned Over Keeping JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park Closed to Cars

There is a growing push to keep the key roadway car-free even after the pandemic ends. While the idea is being cheered by walkers and cyclists, at least one supervisor said the closure has sparked a kind of segregation most people have not seen since the 1950s.

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A 1.5-mile stretch of JFK Drive in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is currently car-free. It was created early in the pandemic to give people enough social distance as they exercised or walked the park, but with cases dwindling and the city reopening, some are calling for the closure to become permanent.

"I would like to see it permanent there are definitely some things to be worked out, but I think it's a great start," said Alec Hawley, who frequently rides his bike through Golden Gate Park and is happy he can ride along JFK Drive without having to worry about cars.

Board of Supervisor President Shaman Walton, however, is raising serious concerns, saying it creates a new barrier for the city's less privileged.

"It makes me sick to my stomach the segregation that is still existing in San Francisco -- specific to JFK," Walton said.

Walton described the situation as looking like the 1950s South at a recent hearing of the San Francisco Transportation Authority.

"The fact of the matter is its an inequitable space folks from the south, east side of San Francisco don't have adequate transportation," Walton said. "Everyone doesn't have an electric bicycle where they can ride their family over to the park."

Walton said he understands the need for safe space, but there is more to consider. Others note they also need to consider access for people with limited mobility.

"I think for now we need to reopen access to communities of color, people of color to the entire city of San Francisco so people can access the area equitably while we have those conversations about how to move forward and what that looks like," Walton said.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition supports the closure, but said it understands there are challenges that need to be overcome. The coalition thinks it can be done without reopening the road to all cars.

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