With the June death of 41-year-old Heather Miller likely on the minds of some, community members gathered Saturday at Golden Gate Park’s County Fair Building to propose different approaches the city of San Francisco could take to make Golden Gate Park safer for pedestrians and cyclists. As The Examiner reports, park neighbors and visitors suggested a variety of solutions — up to and including closing the park off to most private vehicle traffic.
Changes are also being considered for the approach to the park, with The Examiner reporting that some neighbors are angling for protected bike lanes to run along the Panhandle.
Saturday's meeting was convened both by SF Rec and Parks and officials with the SFMTA, and was spurred in part by a plan announced in August by Mayor Ed Lee that sought to reduce injuries and fatalities on our city streets. And while the ideas proffered on Saturday are merely pie in the sky requests now, there could be big changes in the park's future. That is in part because the 1998 Golden Gate Park Master Plan prioritizes different types of traffic in the park, with pedestrians first, cyclists seconds, and cars last.
Written on sticky notes by those in attendance were specific ideas for reshaping Golden Gate Park, as well as the acknowledgement that cars already have plenty of space nearby. “This street is NOT necessary for cars, the Great Highway is only 5 blocks away,” read one such note. A number of cyclists reportedly suggested making the entire park car-free, but at least one driver was in attendance to push back.
“What if you have a picnic?” asked 30-year-old Daniel Thomas. “Would you take a picnic basket on a bike or a bus?" he continued, apparently not realizing that many people do in fact ride bikes or take buses to picnics in the park.
And while drivers like Thomas may not be ready for any substantial changes to the rules of Golden Gate Park's roads, officials appear to be at least considering them. SFMTA Board of Directors Vice Chair Cheryl Brinkman, for one, said the city should "go bold" in its decision.
Maybe Thomas could invest in a bike with a front rack? We've heard picnic baskets fit quite well on those.