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San Francisco Bans Cars From the Heart of its Biggest Park

Lawmakers are debating whether to keep vehicles off a major road in Golden Gate Park. But opponents of the car ban worry about disability access and other issues. 

A bicyclist in Golden Gate Park in April 2020. 

A bicyclist in Golden Gate Park in April 2020. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Since 1967, a 1.5-mile stretch of John F. Kennedy Drive through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco has been closed to cars on Sundays. To expand recreation options in the early days of Covid-19, the city blocked cars from JFK full-time, leading to surging use by pedestrians and cyclists. 

Now the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is set to decide whether to make the traffic ban permanent. Depending on how the 11-member board votes on Tuesday on legislation proposed by Mayor London Breed, Golden Gate Park could become a new icon for car-free accessibility, or eventually return to its pre-pandemic status as a cut-through for weekday commuters.