If San Francisco is genuinely a people friendly town JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park must remain car free.
Motorist advocates of allowing cars to occupy JFK Drive again are cynically using the elderly and disabled as their reason to permit cars back onto JFK Drive.
The thousands who have enjoyed a car free JFK during the past year are vivid testimony to the benefit of this open space for people of all ages. The elderly and disabled included.
There is a solution. The City could provide shuttle service from the Park entry to those who genuinely need assistance.
JFK Drive is not your parking lot.
Regards adequate parking, the underground garage has plenty of space. It was built to accomodate the motoring public.
The DeYoung Museum and the California Academy of Sciences want the Park open to cars, again. Why? It has nothing to do with the elderly and the disabled.
These institutions are in it for the money. Period.
Excerpted from The San Francisco Examiner 3.18.2021
Advocates will gather Saturday in Golden Gate Park to urge The City to make John F. Kennedy Drive permanently car-free. Billed as a family-friendly event with sidewalk chalk art, a selfie booth and music, the rally will begin at 10 a.m. at JFK Drive and 8th Avenue.
Their message boils down to a simple slogan: parks are for people.
“There’s a community that does not want to see our park turn back into a parking lot,” said Matt Brezina, one of the co-founders of People Protected. “We want to have our voices heard.”
Though JFK Drive was closed to cars on Sundays prior to the pandemic, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department temporarily barred them on an all day, every day basis starting April 28 in an effort to create additional outdoor space for recreation and essential travel during the shelter-in-place order.
The 1.5-mile stretch of road has since become a haven for throngs of cyclists, runners, walkers, roller bladers and others who can enjoy the northern side of the park without fear of vehicles. Families can regularly be seen teaching kids how to ride without training wheels, or walking dogs after dinner.
“The most beautiful thing is the diversity of people using JFK Drive, and they’re people who never would have felt comfortable there before,” Brezina said.
Formal action is required from the City to make all or part of this program permanent, otherwise the closure to cars must expire 120 days after the current public health order ends, an unknown date that’s theoretically moving closer as vaccination rates improve.
“Car-Free JFK has provided cultural connection, recreation and safe passage for all visitors, while activating a beautiful stretch of public space,” said David Alexander, co-founder and community organizer of Richmond Family Transportation Network, in his pitch for why the road should stay car-free.
Two institutions with major cultural and political influence in San Francisco have come out in opposition to permanent closure: The DeYoung Museum and the California Academy of Sciences.
Both assert the car prohibition would disproportionately impact patrons with limited mobility.
“While it is great for those who can walk or bike to the de Young, it negatively impacts a huge group of our local community, including people with disabilities, those with ADA placards, the elderly, families with infants and young children and others,” said Miriam Newcomer, a de Young Museum spokesperson.