Golden Gate Park's JFK Dr. could become permanently car-free next month

Car-free portion of Golden Gate Park's JFK Dr. 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has introduced legislation to keep Golden Gate Park's John F. Kennedy Drive permanently car free. 

This comes after the car-free, JFK Dr. movement gained significant momentum last week with the endorsement of The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the city's Recreation and Park Department.

Mayor Breed has embarked on her 10-day European tour to promote tourism as the city's downtown struggles to recover economically from the pandemic, and while remote work is still very much the norm for office workers. But she made time to issue a news release from her office on Tuesday, about the legislation. 

It would make 1.5 miles of the drive permanently car free, as it has been throughout most of the COVID-19 pandemic. It would also implement some one-way streets, new bicycle facilities and other access improvements. 

"I’ve heard from people all over San Francisco that JFK Drive is a better place the way it is today. It is a place people are drawn to and where they can experience the magic of what it means to live in a beautiful city that celebrates open space and has the best park system in the country," said Mayor Breed.

The mayor said the car-free proposal was found to have broad support in the city's outreach process.  

The legislation is cosponsored by city supervisors Dean Preston, Rafael Mandelman, and Matt Haney. The full board of supervisors will get the final vote on this project. That vote could come as soon as next month, according to the mayor's office. 

The mayor's statement said the city will continue to work to ensure Golden Gate Park, de Young Museum, and the California Academy of Sciences remain accessible to the public.

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Supervisor Haney on Twitter, called the current version of car-free JFK Dr. a "joyful refuge" adding perhaps prematurely, "It’s a wonderful thing for our city that this will continue permanently." 

Supervisor Mandelman, who serves as Chair of the County Transportation Authority, said JFK Dr. has been safe and "kid-friendly" as of late.

Supervisor Preston said JFK Dr. was once a high-injury street, but that it's been transformed into a place where children can learn to ride bikes and where pedestrians can safely walk. He added an environmental note, saying the proposal would move San Francisco toward a greener, safer future. 

Pedestrian advocates, Walk San Francisco, who have been vocal supporters of ‘Car Free JFK Dr.,’ tweeted their praise of the legislation's introduction. 

"In a city where it can be life-or-death simply crossing the street, I want to thank Mayor Breed for supporting a truly safe space for walking in our city," said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco in a news release. "This 1.5 miles of car-free space in our biggest park has proven incredibly important for all ages and abilities."

The group said the development has been one of the silver linings of the pandemic. 

How the remaining supervisors vote on this popular proposal remains to be seen.