Park officials approve bike lane plan in Golden Gate Park
San Francisco will install a mile and a half of bicycle lanes in Golden Gate Park as part of the SF Bike Coalition’s Bay to Beach bicycle route, removing dozens of parking spaces in the process.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s John F. Kennedy Drive Bikeway Improvement Project will add 1.5 miles of dedicated bike lanes to the park, a change intended to introduce families and less-confident riders to cycling in Golden Gate Park according to Seleta Reynolds of the MTA. The project received the green light to be implemented on the first of the year, at a full commission meeting attended by a number of supporters and critics earlier today.
“The large picture is to accommodate a wave of enthusiasm to a greener way of getting around, and a healthier way of getting around,” said Recreation and Park Commission President Mark Buell at a commission meeting Oct. 20. “I’ve been converted to bikes. … I think we’ll find that common sense prevails.”
According to Antonio Piccagli of the SFMTA, the project will remove almost 60 parking spots by creating a buffer zone between traffic, parked cars and bicycles.
The MTA had earlier planned on removing 153 spaces, but after working with the De Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences and the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority, the agency was able to come up with a configuration that requires removing fewer spaces. Parking spaces will be removed where the road narrows to the point that parking spots can not be maintained, particularly near Transverse Drive.
The commission approved the plan by unanimous vote, and the lanes are scheduled to be open in January.
Commission President Mark Buell said the Mayor’s Office has received a number of letters expressing concern about the Bikeway Improvement Project from the disability community.
Susan Mizner, director of the Mayor’s Office on Disability, feels a dedicated bike lane may improve conditions for the disability community. “With a sufficient number of dedicated bike lanes throughout the city, we will get enough people biking that it will reduce the pressure on our parking spaces, and our public transit,” said Mizner. “I want to be very clear that this is not a conflict between the disability community and the biking community.”
Other residents and park users did not feel so confident the plan would benefit the entire community.
Daniel Tomasevich, a Sunset District resident, expressed his concern with the project. “People with disabilities, if they find parking, will need to park 12 feet from the curb in the street. How can they safely reach the green areas, sidewalks, while walking over a bicycle lane?” said Tomasevich.
In addition to concerns regarding parking, Tomasevich feels the MTA did not properly engage the entire community
“The MTA designed the plan with only one group in mind,” said Tomasevich. “Pedestrians, runners and people with disabilities were completely left in the dark.”
Some community members welcome the bikeway.
Ann O’Hara, an Ocean Beach-area resident who rides John F. Kennedy Drive every day by bicycle during her commute to work on Potrero Hill, said she believes the city will benefit from a bikeway on one of the major corridors connecting the beach to the bay.
“I know from speaking with friends that their main concern was safety. … For the folks we’re trying to encourage to ride to improve their health, to enjoy the park and the city … I think it’s a very good idea and it can only help the city as a whole.”
Some comments at the commission meeting criticized the rise in the number of cyclists and the dangers cyclists can pose to pedestrians, but O’Hara exercises a “common sense” approach.
“It is evident there are more people out there,” said O’Hara. “Guess what, I use common sense and slow down, and it works. I’ve never wiped out and I’ve never run into anybody.”