SAN FRANCISCO — Supervisors voted Tuesday to ban motorists from a popular road in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, making permanent a closure that started in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic when people needed space to exercise and distance socially.
After a 12-hour meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 for Mayor London Breed’s proposal. The majority sided with supporters who said a car-free promenade was in keeping with the city’s commitment to safer roads and cleaner climate.
Other roads in the park — which sees more than 24 million visitors a year — will stay open to drivers.
Critics argued that permanently closing the 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) portion of John F. Kennedy Drive would cut off park access to people who are disabled, elderly or live farther away while benefiting select bicyclists and runners.
Some people asked for a compromise to keep the road car-free on weekends only, saying drivers needed access during the week.
“To close down portions of the park says to a certain geography, says to a certain class of people, says to a certain race of people here in San Francisco that you weren’t welcome before and you’re still not welcome,” Board President Shamann Walton, who represents one of the most diverse and low-income parts of the city, said during the meeting.
The battle between motorists and pedestrians and bicyclists has raged in San Francisco for roughly two years. In August, Breed announced that a stretch of coastal highway that was closed to cars in 2020 would reopen to vehicles during the week.