From the Christian Science Monitor, 05.02.07:
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and joggers are king of the road – at least sometimes – as more US cities ban autos from parks or designated districts.This isn't directly related to workday bicycle commuting. But bicycling is an indisputably fun, healthy form of recreation--and bicycles are also useful for weekend transportation.
San Francisco - Every Saturday starting May 26 through Sept. 30, bicyclists, joggers, and pedestrians will have free rein on almost a mile of John F. Kennedy Drive, the main drag through Golden Gate Park. The usual denizens of the road – autos – will be banned, detoured elsewhere.
Vehicles are already prohibited in parts of the park on Sundays, and the decision to "go carless" on Saturdays as well concludes a heated seven-year debate. In the end, arguments that such road closures promote family activities, more active lifestyles, and tighter-knit communities carried the day.
The auto's demotion at Golden Gate Park follows dozens of similar moves in at least 20 American cities in the past three years. It's a trend that is gaining ground rapidly in the US, say urban planners.(Read more.)
The victory of the "Healthy Saturdays" compromise in San Francisco is a credit to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), the leading group in a broad coalition of rollerskaters, environmentalists, youth advocates, and community groups. Many suspect the recent Critical Mass media storm was an orchestrated attempt to undermine the SFBC's momentum on this campaign.
I have to quibble with the Christian Science Monitor on one thing: The debate on car-free space on JFK Drive has lasted far, far longer than seven years. If only it were seven years. I was involved in the mid-1990s with SFBC's Golden Gate Park Taskforce, an effort that led to a petition-qualified ballot initiative in 2000. It failed to a better funded opposition and manipulative politics, leading to a successful seven-year effort to win "Healthy Saturdays." All along the way we faced intense media opposition.
Congratulations to the SFBC and all the supporters of parks for people, not parking.
Image: Chris Duderstadt
Visit: Healthy Saturdays Coalition
Visit: Designing Cities for People, Earth Policy Institute
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips