Supe pushing Saturday road closure in park 

A new analysis of a controversial idea to further ban cars in part of Golden Gate Park shows much higher numbers of people walking, bicycling and skating in the park on Sundays — and road-closure backers say that proves roads should be closed on Saturdays as well.

Conducted on two Saturdays and two Sundays last August by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the report showed a 116percent increase in pedestrians, skaters and bicyclists on Sundays, when roads are closed, compared to Saturdays. The report also showed nearby shops and cultural institutions in the park drew significantly more traffic on Sundays.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick introduced an ordinance last April requesting a six-month trial period of road closures on Saturdays to promote park attendance. The Board of Supervisors approved the trial period, allowing a 1.5-mile stretch of John F. Kennedy Drive from Kezar to Tranverse drives to be closed on Saturdays from May 27 to Nov. 25. The roads have been closed on Sundays for the last 40 years.

Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed the legislation on May 15, saying city voters had already rejected a similar measure on the 2000 ballot. Newsom also said the closures would adversely affect businesses in the area and the de Young Museum.

McGoldrick says the report shows those fears are unfounded. "The visitors to the park more than double on Sundays, when the park is closed to traffic, and more people visited the de Young Museum and local merchants on Sundays," McGoldrick said Thursday.

McGoldrick said in a statement that he plans to bring the legislation back to the Board of Supervisors. Jennifer Petrucione, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office, said they would be reviewing the report.

While pedestrian and bicycle groups support a Saturday road closure, neighborhood groups and disability advocates say further closures would make it harder for the elderly and disabled to come to the park. Some neighbors also feared an increase in traffic in the surrounding areas as drivers tried to navigate alternate routes.

"I’m absolutely appalled that they would even ask for Saturdays to be closed, when Sundays have not even been made accessible [to people with disabilities]," said Tim Hornbecker, executive director of Arc of San Francisco, an advocacy organization for people with developmental disabilities.

Although parking and traffic numbers from the report were virtually the same on Saturdays and Sundays, traffic counts did increase from Saturday to Sunday in two residential streets near the park.

eeconomides@examiner.com

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