SFMTA, Rec and Park Department give official recommendation for car-free JFK Drive

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and San Francisco Recreation and Park officials are asking residents to take weigh-in on updates happening to the car-free portion of John F. Kennedy Drive at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco

The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency and the city's Recreation and Park Department gave their official recommendation Monday that John F. Kennedy Drive remain permanently car-free through Golden Gate Park.

Park officials and the SFMTA recommended that the street remain closed to vehicles along a 3-mile stretch between Lincoln Way and Kezar Drive, which has been closed since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to make outdoor and socially distant recreation easier.

The two agencies received feedback on the street closure from some 10,000 people over an eight-month outreach process.

"Based on extensive outreach, we are making significant access improvements to the park along with this recommendation," Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said. "The goal of the proposal is a park that's safe, welcoming, and easy to access no matter how you travel."  

Roughly 70 percent of respondents to an online survey run by the SFMTA and the Recreation and Park Department supported keeping JFK Drive permanently free of vehicles, as well as the addition of increased shuttle service and bicycling infrastructure along the street.

In addition, support for keeping the street clear of traffic spanned across all ethnic groups surveyed, as well as all age groups under age 65, according to the two agencies. 

The Recreation and Park Commission and SFMTA are expected to consider the proposal for JFK Drive at a joint informational meeting Thursday. 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the proposal as soon as April. 

"Before COVID, JFK was a street with some of the highest traffic injury rates in the city, and was used mainly for cut-through traffic," SFMTA Transportation Director Jeffrey Tumlin said. "We look forward to presenting a plan that addresses all the concerns we've heard, including expanded disabled parking, improved safety and improved access for all modes."