letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Compromise is Best Solution for JFK Drive


As someone who bikes in Golden Gate Park several times a week, I feel Heather Murdock missed a few important facts in her commentary supporting JFK Drive’s closure:

1. I have never (not once!) seen a single soul in the GGP shuttle. Every time, every shuttle is empty;

2. Those people who are frail, severely disabled, or dependent upon their community shuttles (e.g., those who live in nursing homes or care centers) cannot access ANY of JFK. One of the highlights of working in the Dahlia Dell is seeing the delight of these residents as they pull up next to the gardens and see the flowers from their vans and shuttles. These people have been denied access for two years now and it may be permanent? Completely unfair. So many elderly or frail San Franciscans have no way to see this part of San Francisco;

3. Why can’t there be a compromise? Why start the closure at Stanyan? Why not consider what the volunteers of the Dahlia Society believe would be a fairer situation and either A) keep JFK Drive open three days a week, including one weekend day; or B) start the closure on the west side of Nancy Pelosi Drive, so people can access Pompeo to enjoy the Dahlia Dell, Native, and Conservatory of Flowers Gardens.

When I talk to the “Keep-JFK-Drive-closed” folks, they often end up agreeing that a compromise is a good solution. I was unable to show my recently-deceased father the Dahlia Dell the last two years of his life, because we couldn’t drive up to the flowers and he wasn’t strong enough to transfer. He had dementia. He and so many others like him miss the pleasure of seeing the Dahlia Dell and other stunning sights along the east end of JFK Drive. Why deny them all this access totally and completely, seven days a week. It’s heartless. 

Sarah Smith

2 replies »

  1. I agree. I was unable to drive my 94 yo housebound neighbor through GG Park after taking her out of her house to get COVID vaccinations. She would have really enjoyed seeing the park because she was an avid gardener and had not been out of her house for years. But the JFK closure precluded that. I have lived in the outer Richmond for more than 35 years and have a membership to the Fine Arts Museum and formerly the CA Acad of Sciences. I use to go to the deYoung 4-5 times/month to just drop in for a quick viewing of the most recent exhibits and old favorites. I haven’t been there for almost two years now because it’s just too difficult to traverse the park with all the closed roads and lack of parking. I gave away my bicycles years ago although my then young daughter and I would frequently bike along JFK both when it was closed on Sundays and other open days without feeling particularly unsafe. With arthritis and a meniscal knee injury riding a bike was no longer reasonable. A much better compromise would be to build a protected bike lane and separate bicyclists from cars AND pedestrians since now the accidents/injuries have been bikes hitting pedestrians. I agree I have rarely seen a shuttle bus in GG Park. On a zoom call with SF Park and Rec and disability advocates they pointed out how the shuttles were unreliable, with unshelterered bus stops and vans not really handicap accessible. They also point out that the loss of street parking hurt them since they don’t only park in blue handicapped zones but at the nearest parking spot they can find since blue zones are often full.


  2. GG Park was fine as it was before this illegal closure. Go back to closing JFK on Sundays and leave the rest of the park alone. Everyone was able to enjoy the park in the past. Now I bike thru a mostly empty park. The 9th ave entrance is a disaster on a sunny weekend cars just barley moving trying to find a place to park. It’s so bad I no longer enter the park at 9th via bike or walking.


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