We missed out on bringing cars back to MLK / Middle Drive – Streetsblog San Francisco

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Dear SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tomlin, Parks Director Phil Ginsburg, Mayor of London Post:

A short section of Martin Luther King Jr. has reopened. Drive in Golden Gate Park, formerly reserved for cyclists as part of a unique, safe and mostly car-free route connecting Middle Drive and JFK Promenade to the western half of the park, reopened Monday to motorists. It was done for.”Reduce congestion and create a smoother driving journey south from Outer Richmond. This in addition to the Six Lanes of Lincoln, four lanes of Irving and other east-west routes are available for motorists to connect with the sunset.

Photo: Rec and Parks
Photo: Rec and Parks

Streetsblog is delighted to see SFMTA make sure motorists have a “smoother” ride. Lord knows, motorists have had a rough time as car traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels despite a hundreds of billions of dollar highway system, massive multi-lane streets, and even multi-lane bridges and tunnels almost exclusively designated for their use.

However, we are concerned about the performance of your media staff. This publication has received no notice of the awareness and stock analysis meetings that have taken place over the years prior to such an important change being made on a San Francisco street.

The construction of the JFK Promenade, which closed just less than half of the JFK Drive motorway to provide a single, safe east-west bike route through the park, required decades of outreach, weekend pilots, studies, and marathon sessions with the public attestation. For now at least, cyclists finally have a safe way to cross the eastern part of the park as a result. To give cyclists a safe ride through the western half of the park, a road was constructed using a mix of trails and streets, including the MLK. Media communication was reasonably good about this plan. I certainly knew about the meetings and polls that led to the multiple votes required for approval.

MLK at Sunset, now open for cars.  Photo: Cyrus Hall
Facing east on MLK, which recently reopened to cars, at sunset. Photo: Cyrus Hall

Since the decision was made this week to return part of that road to motorists – a clear departure from voter-approved “cross-first” in the city, Vision Zero commitments, etc., not to mention your goal to reduce emissions and “vehicle miles traveled” – no doubt An extensive stock analysis and outreach was performed. Or maybe there was an emergency declaration to allow cars to come back here?

We hope these documents are sent our way now.

I know our city leadership agrees that “one murder on the streets of San Francisco is too many.”

A 2016 vigil for Heather Miller, was killed in Golden Gate Park just a short distance from where SFMTA and the city have now made driving “smoother”. Photo: Streetsblog / Rudick

This must be true because the mayor has said it so many times. So presumably the studies or the emergency declaration that justified prioritizing another section of the street for motorists also shows that you did everything possible to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe around town. After all, the city has limited resources and certainly did not decide to spend it on “smoothing” the commute of a handful of motorists before completing the task of making all the streets safe for everyone.

We look forward to reading these documents and studies and thank you in advance for submitting them.


Roger Roddick

Editor, Streetsblog San Francisco

Note: For more information about the clumsy and dangerous implementation of reversal on MLK, check out Twitter theme Cyrus Hall.

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