A mile and a half of safe and comfortable bikeways in Golden Gate Park
With over 13 million visitors each year, Golden Gate Park is San Francisco's largest park as well as the third most visited urban park in the nation. The eastern section of the park, where the Music Concourse, the Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum are located, is particularly attractive to visitors and has a history of innovative projects.
Since 1967, the eastern half of John F. Kennedy Drive has been the site of one of America's oldest open street initiative, Car-free Sundays, when the thoroughfare officially closes from Stanyan Street to Transverse Drive. This weekly event sparked a tremendous increase in park use.
In recognition of Golde Gate Park's importance, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's Connecting the City campaign features it prominently in its Bay to Beach Route. Of paramount importance to our vision was having a safe and separated bikeway on a calmer JFK Drive.
John F. Kennedy Drive Bikeways Today
The JFK Drive separated bikeways follow approximately the same mile and a half route as Car-free Sundays. They include a continuous painted buffer between the bikeway and moving vehicles, with parked automobiles adding an additional buffer in some sections. It also includes improved connections to the Panhandle Path. The SFMTA is also adding new curb cuts along JFK Drive, to improve access to the curb for many visitors using wheelchairs and scooters. See the SFMTA’s JFK Drive project page for more specific information on the design.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition thanks Mayor Edwin Lee, Recreation and Parks Director Phil Ginsburg, SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin and Supervisor Eric Mar for their work in bringing this safer bikeway to JFK Drive. We would also like to thank the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee for their input and for endorsing and supporting the JFK Drive Separated Bikeways.
Parking-protected bikeways have been in the ground in cities across North America and around the world for many years, with many concrete benefits. People biking enjoy an extra level of comfort being separated from motor vehicles – helpful for both seasoned bike commuters and those new to urban biking – and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is thrilled to see that most of those surveyed like the new configuration as the SFMTA's Preliminary Evaluation (PDF) indicates.
Another important and expected result of the new design is reduced motor vehicles speeds, with decreases of up to 10%. Street designs that reduce vehicle speed are one of the most important steps in improving safety for everyone, particularly for pedestrians and people on bicycles. Thousands of people daily, whether weekend visitors to the Academy of Sciences and de Young Museum or explorers of Golden Gate Park, are now enjoying a safer and calmer eastern half of JFK Drive.
Whether they're a new rider or have been riding for years, we often hear from our members that they appreciate the protection from moving automobiles when biking on JFK Drive. Read a few words from Miri - a new bike rider from the Outer Sunset who just started riding a bike for transportation around Bike to Work Day this year.
Adapting to Change on JFK Drive
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition acknowledges that San Francisco's first parking-separated bikeway was met with some initial confusion. Reports of people exiting vehicles and darting across the bikeway without looking is of particular concern. We want to ensure that everyone has a safe experience in Golden Gate Park and are working hard to avoid collisions in this new mixing zone through outreach and education. People biking through the separated bikeway and people exiting vehicles will need to be aware of each other and go slower in some locations and circumstance. Those that do not feel comfortable biking in the separated bikeway are legally allowed to bike in the lane with automobiles.
People traveling using the newly upgraded JFK Drive should take care of the following:
Next Steps for JFK Drive
The Department of Public Works and the Recreation and Parks Department have fixed drainage issues in many locations along JFK Drive, allowing for a pond-free bike ride during the rainy season. The City has also added new curb ramps and added addition van-accessible blue zone parking stalls – making JFK Drive more accessible for some mobility-impaired visitors. These improvements come after many months of the SF Bicycle Coalition, the SFMTA, the Mayor’s Disability Council, the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee and others working together to create a design that will be safer and more inviting for everyone.
A final report will be produced by the SFMTA in the next few weeks. It will include data on changes to vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian volumes, if any, as well as operational observations and design recommendations for future bikeways in San Francisco. In the meantime, we will continue listening to our members and consider design changes that can improve the safety of Golden Gate Park for all visitors.
For more information or questions, contact Chema Hernández Gil at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.431.2453 x321.