SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Walkers, bikers, runners and skaters took advantage Saturday of a new ‘car free’ route stretching from the east end of Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach.

Officials said the Golden Gate Park Slow Streets project will provide the last link in a protected path for cyclists stretching from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.

The route — part of a plan by the city to give residents safe, socially distanced exercise options during the COVID-19 pandemic — was unveiled Friday and goes into full effect this weekend.

“Slow Streets has been a great program for San Franciscans during COVID, and this expansion will provide more room for our residents to get out, exercise, and safely explore Golden Gate Park from one end to the other,” said Mayor London N. Breed. “We know the past six months have been really challenging for everyone, but having these new open spaces in our parks and on our streets has helped keep people happy and healthy.”

The street closures will remain in effect throughout San Francisco’s COVID-19 response.

“Exercising and playing outdoors lift our spirits and keep our bodies healthy during these challenging times,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “We are delighted to open even more space in our park so people can safely get out and play.”

Golden Gate Park Slow Streets will begin at Stanyan Street and John F. Kennedy Drive East on the park’s eastern tip, connecting with the stretch of JFK from Kezar Drive to Transverse Drive that has been closed since April 28.

The route will then continue onto Overlook Drive, then Middle Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Ocean Beach, where it will connect with the Great Highway, which has also been closed due to the pandemic, creating a continuous, family-friendly path from the Panhandle to the San Francisco Zoo.

While the street closure was intended to increase space for people to get outside, park users must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

People feeling sick should stay home.

While the new route is nearly car-free, there are a few spots where people strolling, running and rolling will need to look out for vehicles.

Drivers will be rerouted from some east and westbound roads during Golden Gate Park Slow Streets, including:

  • The west portion of MLK Drive west of Sunset Boulevard, specifically from the Middle Drive/MLK loop to Lincoln Way, is closed to regular traffic. This includes Bernice Rodgers Way, between MLK Drive and JFK Drive.
  • Overlook Drive and Middle Drive, between Transverse Drive and the Metson/Middle Drive/MLK loop, will be closed to traffic. However, Middle Drive between Transverse and Overlook will remain open and available for street parking.
  • JFK Drive, between Kezar Drive and Transverse Drive, will remain closed to traffic. This portion of the road had previously been closed during the City’s initial COVID-19 response.

More than 30 corridors have been planned or implemented as a Slow Street throughout San Francisco.

“With so many playgrounds still closed, families need safe places to exercise,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “And with Muni service suffering, we need more cross-town routes where regular San Franciscans can feel safe making their essential trips by foot, bike, scooter, wheelchair or other micromobility device.”

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