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Golden Gate Park’s JFK Drive to go car-free promote social distancing

The city will also close McLaren Park’s Shelley Drive

San Francisco park rangers guard an entrance leading to Hippie Hill on 4/20.
Photo by AP Photo/Ben Margot

They did it!

Starting Tuesday, the city will close part of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park to vehicular traffic for the duration of the stay-at-home order, which will go into June.

It’s part of a plan to get people out of their homes and into more roomy public areas.

JFK Drive will be closed to traffic from Kezar Drive to Transverse Drive. McLaren Park’s Shelley Drive will also close to cars.

“We know that people need to go outside, whether to get exercise or just clear their head, and closing JFK and Shelley Drive to cars will make it easier for people who choose to leave their home to stay six feet apart from others,” said Mayor London Breed said in a written statement.

But everyone must continue to stay home as often as possible “and follow all public health recommendations,” she adds.

The street closures will help give people more space to hang out in Golden Gate Park and McLaren Park safely in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Now more than ever San Francisco parks have turned into urban oases, small green spaces that give denizens room to exercise or lounge about in the sun. Sidewalks don’t always allow for healthy distancing, but parks give cooped-up residents, a better option.

“Parks aren’t a luxury; they are a necessity,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

The street closures come on the heels of SF’s Slow Streets program, which shuttered a dozen streets to through traffic while opening them to pedestrians, cyclists, and local traffic.