Yet Another Reason My Cyclist Animosity Continues

I read with disbelief and a wee bit of ire that the Supes have voted to close large chunks of Golden Gate Park to vehicle traffic on weekends for a 6 month period.

Initial passage of the legislation — which would shut the main drags in the park’s east side on Saturdays for a six-month trial — was a victory for cyclists, joggers and advocates of green space. The streets already are closed on Sundays.

The ordinance was vehemently opposed by Inner Sunset neighborhood and Richmond District residents concerned about the impact it would have on demand for already scarce street parking just outside the park. It also was fought by advocates for disabled people, who see barring cars as tantamount to putting up an unwelcome sign on the city’s signature greenbelt.

The measure as well drew the ire of supporters of cultural institutions lining the Music Concourse who worry about a loss of visitors and who mounted campaigns that helped to defeat earlier efforts to close park roadways

[jump] The six-month trial closure would affect 1 1/2 miles of roadway and mimic the Sunday closure of John F. Kennedy Drive between Kezar Drive and Transverse Drive, a routine that has gone on for 39 years and is favored by bicyclists, runners and other parkgoers.

During the period, city officials would gather information on changes in park usage, traffic and parking patterns, and adjustments that could be made to public transit to support the program.

It’s not law yet and even if so, it’s a short term test. I think it’s a bad idea. Especially given the parking strapped neighborhoods (like mine) that would be most hurt by the ban. Kudos, however, to my neighborhood Supervisors Fiona Ma (across the street) and Sean Elsbernd (my house) for again casting the thoughtful vote to preserve park access for everyone.

31 Comments so far

  1. Jason D- (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 11:59 am

    My only complaint is that it’s not 7 days a week and both JFK & MLK. I live in the same part of town as you but I just prefer not owning a car so I’m all for more bike and pedestrian friendly areas where and whenever we can get them.

  2. irja (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

    As a cyclist, I’m probably one of the few who doesn’t want to see this happen. I mean, I’m all for open space and safety for pedestrians and bike riders alike, but aren’t we supposed to be sharing the roads? It seems this legislation will only benefit a handful of San Franciscans and really frustrate a lot of others.

    How about we make the park more accessible for everyone. The cars got their parking garage already, now lets work on proper bike lanes (& places to lock up!), upgraded walking/running paths, and public safety.

    Stepping down from the soapbox.

  3. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

    It’s not exactly an UN-pedestrian friendly park now. Can you just not resist walking down the center of the street? GGP has wide, lovely sidewalks, TONS of walking and cycle paths, lush lawns and a ton of other non-car, foot-friendly space.

    I’d prefer not owning a car as well, but I live in California and I’m realistic about mobility in the Golden State.

    Even if I didn’t have a car, the disabled access argument is more than enough to convince me this is a bad idea. Not to mention the families with kids for whom Muni just isn’t a viable option (you try hauling a stroller and all that kid crap on and off a popular bus line on the weekend). And, of course, since tourism is still a major, major part of the SF economy. Like it or not, our collective quality of life diminishes when they get fed up and stop coming.

  4. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

    IRJA – excellent point on sharing the roads. It’s a – sorry, can’t avoid the pun – two way street.

  5. Richard Ault (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

    I don’t understand your post’s title. You have animosity towards cyclists because they are closing the park to automobile traffic on Saturdays? A few years back Willie Brown (or someone in his administration) proposed closing Market street to automobile traffic, how do you feel about WIllie?

    Regardless, San Francisco has a lot to gain by becoming a lot more pedestrian/cycle friendly. Especially in the park. I’m not familiar with either sides of this argument, at least not formally. But common sense certainly dictates that the park experience will certainly be a lot more aesthetically pleasing to all comers in the absence of cars. Also, I think there should be new areas built out for dropping off stuff, e.g. ever hosted a party in the park? Definitely need to be able to shuttle in supplies.

    Seriously though, San Francisco should be setting an example here, not retrenching in bullshit arguments like the quality of life in the inner sunset being degraded because people can’t park in the park. That’s horseshit. We should be talking about cleaning up our streets, dealing with homelessness and not waste anymore ink or time on making this city more car friendly. Puhlease….

    In Washington, D.C. they close one of the most trafficked avenues into the city, every Sunday to allow for the free flow of Cycling traffic. In Sun Valley Idaho, there is an incredible network of bicycle paths throughout the town. In Amsterdam and Bejing, bicycles and bicyclists outnumber cars significantly. And on and on and on. San Francisco is well behind even Southern California with regards to making cities safe for peds and cyclists. Get with the program.

  6. Richard Ault (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

    Also, I have a three year old, and we visit the park almost every weekend. Rain or shine. Cars do not play into the equation for my family and most of the families I know. Taking muni is actually a nice experience for us, the kids love the train. Ever heard of Thomas the Train? :-)

    As a matter of fact the only thing the cars in the park do for our family is feed anxiety about where she may wander while we are there.

  7. Peter Reynolds (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 12:45 pm

    I live near 6th and Lincoln and drive through the Park and along Arguello to get to the Inner Richmond. It will not be a problem for me to drive around the Park and up Stanyon. The car does all the work! I just sit there! My trip will take longer, and that’s ok. I already do it on Sunday.

    And the museums have their new underground garage to replace lost street parking.

    I agree it will be harder to find street parking in my area.

  8. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 12:50 pm

    Richard – the post title comes from the fact that the cycling lobby celebrated a victory over the legislation – according to the linked article.

    As I’ve said before, and will say again, SF is hardly anti-pedestrian. It’s not like cars are driving around the lawns! They’re in the street. Streets are for cars. It’s a trade off, isn’t it? Lots of green space – but people have to be able to get to it, through it, and around in it.

    Thanks for the horseshit comment though – that adds a lot. Ever hosted a party at home? It’s nice when I can park close enough to unload groceries. This isn’t about making the city more car-friendly, just not less.

  9. Richard Ault (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 2:15 pm

    CD, sorry if my language offended you. I’m trying to express to you that this city could and should become a lot less car centric, per other major URBAN centers. The pedestrian and cyclist should always come before the automobile.

    Then again if you want to live in a world that puts automotive transport first you are certainly entitled to that point of view. I know I don’t. Cars are wasteful and polluting. Car culture is lazy and condusive to bad behaviours, e.g. Road Rage. Ever been yelled at by another driver?

    Cars have their purpose, I don’t deny that. Hell I even own one. But I believe FIRMLY that this city of all cities in California could stand to be SIGNIFICANTLY more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, and most arguments in favor of making the city more car friendly are baseless, selfish paens (sp?) to outmoded thinking in a world programmed by Madison Avenue and the Automotive lobby.

    I’m stoked they are closing the park to cars. And can’t wait for people to get on board with that kind of thinking. Hell, maybe I can even cross the street in front of my own house without getting yelled at by some raging car driver someday in the future.

  10. derek (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 2:20 pm

    The proposal actually improves disabled access in the park.
    Disabled vehicles are permitted access to JFK Dr. at all times, even during the car free hours, and there will be additional disabled parking spaces created if the legislation passes the full board.
    So that isn’t an argument. But you may want to read up on the subject here

    you’ll see the same in a letter to the editor here:

    and… here.

  11. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 2:21 pm

    It’s not the language – it was it’s direction . . .

    SF is different. It isn’t New York. It’s isn’t a major European city. It’s a California city and, like it or not, California is a car state.

    Not all drivers yell, either, so that argument doesn’t really work. There’s walk rage in other places. Scooter or bike rage. Please, that’s in how specific people conduct themselves.

  12. Chris Pederick (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

    “It’s a California city and, like it or not, California is a car state.”

    I always hear people say this, but what does it really mean? Why is California a car state? And why must it remain so?

  13. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

    You don’t know why California is a car state? Start by checking out a map of the Western United States. Continue by further inspecting the relative density of population centers in California, the type of immigrants to California in the early days (I’m talking intra-US immigrants), and the American Dream as seen through Cali-eyes.

    It needn’t remain so, but until there’s Bay Area-wide committment to regional transit, more realistic affordable housing plans, or a general redistribution of wealth, closing a few streets won’t make cars go away.

    You should read more about California history. Hell, rent “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

  14. Richard Ault (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

    Once again, it’s your **opinion** that SF is not akin to NY or a major european city. And also your opinion that California is a “car state”. Our state is what people want it to be, and enough people want cars out of GGP to get the city to take action. Ergo, by your logic SF is a pedestrian/cycle city.

    Getting closer to the point. SF is certainly not LA, Sac or SD, which is a copout in and of itself to draw comparisons to justify a weak position. Simply put SF is on less land mass then many cities are, very concentrated population-wise. I’d posit that is a strong argument to plan for more pedestrian/cyclist amenities and better pedestrian safety.

    More arguments for arguments sake.

    Studies have been conducted that are starting to show that the obesity crisis in this country is highly correlated to the car culture so rampant in our society. Why walk or ride when you can drive? Ever look at how many people are in the carpool lane when you are driving on the highways around our major cities. Not many.

    Here’s another for you. Dependance on foreign oil. You like to drive? Well I hope you like war too. Because there certainly isn’t enough oil in the Arctic to fuel this hungry nation. And the rest of the world knows they have us by the short hairs.

    It’s high time for a change in thinking. Why drive when you can walk or ride I say. And California of ALL THE STATES in the US is one of the best places to get out of our cars and do just that. Walk.

  15. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 2:57 pm

    Richard, by that token, all your comments are just your *opinion* as well. I think everyone here knows that all posts and comments are the authors’ opinion since no one here is God.

  16. BenJ (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

    The park is far, far, FAR more pleasant without cars in it. I for one would welcome this change, and in fact would consider it a BENEFIT OF LIVING IN THE SUNSET (if I were ever crazy enough to consider that again.)

    Regardless, we should all be thankful that some of the original SF freeeway plans were never realized.

  17. Chester (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 3:11 pm

    I also think the phrasing of the title conveys either an incomplete or incorrect message.

    1. There may have been a cyclist lobby working for the JFK Dr. closure, but it wasn’t the only one. The trial closes the street to cars, it doesn’t re-zone it for a solely cycling usage.

    2. Not all “cyclists” agree with the closure, much less everything that a particular cycling lobby has on its agenda.

    To state that you have a “Cycling Animosity” implies that you have animosity toward cyclists, in general, which I imagine is not something you feel.

    Hence the head-scratching when reading your headline.

  18. Chris Pederick (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    *Goes to look at these magical things called maps and history books*

    *Reads them in the peace and quiet of a park free of traffic*

  19. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 3:21 pm

    The title was intended to imply that I have an animosity toward cyclists – though it was written that way because I knew it would ruffle a few feathers, not because I actuall spend time and concern feeling animosity toward cyclists (except when they disobey basic rules of the road and then get mad at ME, but as discussed way above, rules of the road go both ways).

    In that regard – the title worked because would you just LOOK at the freaking out going on here . . . lovin’ it.

  20. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

    and for the record, lest you think i live my life in my car, aiming for pedestrians and cyclists and toddlers: i’m a runner. I trained for last year’s SF Marathon in the Park and all over this grand city. Runners’ World even voted SF the top city for running in the country. I never had any problems finding dedicated running areas in the Park – mostly along car-free, wide sidewalks, and along the numerous paths in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Can cars present a danger – yes, absolutely, and at times with tragic results. I’m not saying that’s good or even acceptible. But a measure of self-preservation and awareness goes a long, long way. Just don’t crank the pod too loud and keep aware of your surroundings.

    The same battle, by the way, exists between runners and cyclists as between cyclists and drivers.

  21. Jordan (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

    San Francisco is not a car city, and never should be. It’s no coincidence that the neighborhoods best-suited for cars in this city are the least vibrant and interesting (the Avenues, namely.) The less car-convenient the city is, the less people will use them. Cars may be convenient for some, but the costs in public health and infrastructure subsidies weigh too heavily against them, not to mention the wars that have to be fought to fuel them. Help invest in public transit by using it. Help create neighborhoods full of diverse street traffic and support small businesses by walking instead of driving. If it’s okay to ban smoking because somebody might one day get cancer from second-hand smoke, it’s surely okay enact public policy that makes the city safer and more comfortable for the pedestrian. In the long run it benefits everyone.

  22. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

    Boy do I intensely dislike when people disparage the Avenues. Just because our vibrance and local businesses don’t fit the mold you need to be comfortable doesn’t make them any less valid a community.

  23. Jordan (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 4:19 pm

    I won’t question the validity of “community” in the Avenues, but certainly the dearth of pedestrians, trees, street life, shops and services leaves the Avenues with something to be desired.

  24. Richard Ault (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

    Jordan, I’m a recently minted resident of the Inner Sunset, and understand where you are coming from. Not to change topic, but yes, the Sunset could generally use some greening up. Please give FUF a look.

    In my short 3 years living on 9th avenue, I’ve seen quite a turnaround in the quality of life out here. I’ve lived on Franklin at Jackson, 16th and Dolores and Oak and Scott previously. And of all those locations, I love this one the most. We have the park, see thread above :-) and incredible eateries. If traffic could be calmed somewhat I think this place could prove to be the most ideal in the entirety of the city.

    My bias is that I have a family here in the city, and I plan on staying. Working for a greener, more pedestrian friendly, neighborhood schools, place to live.

  25. A Libertarian (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

    I agree that this legislation is ridiculous. I understand the spirit, but it has gone too far. GG Park has miles of broad sidewalks– even the streets are extra-wide. There are numerous mountain biking paths. How much time and oil are visitors going to waste now looking for parking? The new De Young lot provides far fewer spaces than will be lost from the street. Taking the bus is not a viable option for many. It is about an hour trip for me each way.

    To take the argument to the extreme, how would cyclists feel if the roads and sidewalks were closed to all vehicular traffic, cars and bikes? That would make the roads so much safer and plesant for the pedestrians! Heck, maybe we should build some parking decks at the city line and make SF a car-free zone! Think of all the oil we could save! And we’d all be heathier too!

  26. sfmike (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 6:04 pm

    I was born and raised in the bosom of serious car culture in Southern California and found it ridiculous and disgusting from a very young age — both socially and environmentally. Plus, it’s obvious that car culture is not going to last much longer without the extinction of the human species (and quite a few other species while we’re at it).

    One of the few places I can live in California without a car is San Francisco and your self-righteousness about the use of your own automobile is frankly disgusting. I wish you’d leave the Avenues and just move to San Jose where you can sit in the concrete jams on your way to unloading groceries for your silly parties.

    Your bringing up of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is revealing. The real-life villains of both the film and history were the car culture robber barons we are still living under who destroyed one of the great urban railway lines in the world in the Los Angeles basin so nobody could use it anymore. They literally tore up all the tracks so everyone would have to drive a car!

    And I’ve got my own issues with self-righteous cyclists, but your smugness, Ms. Dominguez, shades over into sheer stupidity.

  27. cd (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 10:38 pm

    Wow, SFMike, you’re a moron. I didn’t say let’s all be like the film. A comment was made to the effect that the commenter didn’t understand the history of the car and its rise in California. I was merely giving examples.

    At no point have I been self-righteous – but if you have a right to walk or cycle here, I have a right to enjoy my neighborhood and still be able to work and put food on my table and keep a roof over my head. And there’s no smugness here – I’m just saying it’s shortsighted legislation that benefits those fortunate enough to elect to live car free lives – some of us don’t have a choice (see comments about the need for stronger, safer, more frequent, reliable regional transit above).

    I’ll stick with the Avenues awhile – if YOU don’t like that there are cars there, move to Nob Hill.

    And about the Avenues: Jordan, it leaves something to be desire for *you*. I think it’s a pretty whole, complete community.

  28. Chris Pederick (unregistered) on April 27th, 2006 @ 9:33 am

    “And about the Avenues: Jordan, it leaves something to be desire for *you*”

    CD, by that token, all your comments are just your *opinion* as well. I think everyone here knows that all posts and comments are the authors’ opinion since no one here is God.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. :)

  29. cd (unregistered) on April 27th, 2006 @ 1:43 pm


  30. CLB (unregistered) on April 27th, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

    It might help to remember a few things – 1) it’s only 1.5 miles out of 19 miles of roadway in GG Park. 2) There will still be over 4,000 free parking spaces in the park and an 800 car garage. 3) It’s a six month trial – the Mayor’s office and DPT are coming up with the criteria for the success or failure of the trial.

    Also, it might help to know that closing roads to traffic actually has the side efffect of reducing auto trips, so there is actually less traffic. The Institute of Civil Engineering calls it the Vanishing Traffic Effect. I can post the link if anyone is interested.

    If we can help the current population become less auto dependant, good for us, we will all be better off because of that.

  31. eddo (unregistered) on April 29th, 2006 @ 4:37 am

    Also of note, when you say it’s a “California city”, San Francisco happens to be the second densest city in America after New York.

    With the hills and topology of our beautiful city, as well as our clear geographic and area constraints, shouldn’t this *be* the type of city where public transit use is encouraged and private transit use is discouraged? If not here, then where?

    It’s not ideal, and it’s not the final answer, but I do think it’s a step in the right direction.

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