Starting this Sunday, virtual Bay to Breakers runners/partiers will begin doing their 12Ks wherever they happen to be. Conveniently enough, this weekend San Francisco just filled in some of the last remaining gaps in its network of car-free streets connecting the Embarcadero and the beach. Runners and walkers — along with cyclists, scooterers, skateboarders and all the rest — will be able to trace a similar path as the fabled race, without fear of cars or Covid.
On Friday, San Francisco Rec and Park and SFMTA made several streets in Golden Gate Park car-free, creating a nearly continuous stretch of roadway dedicated solely to pedestrians and cyclists across the length of the park. When connected to existing Slow Streets, protected bike lanes, and car-free Market Street, the new street closures in the park create a mostly car-free route across the middle of the city.
The route goes like this: from the Ferry Building, take car-free Market Street (and a brief stretch of car-accessible Market) to the intersection of Page Street. Follow Page — one of the city’s most popular Slow Streets, with no through access to cars — for its entire length until you hit Golden Gate Park. Once in the park, take JFK Drive to Middle Drive to MLK Drive, and voila, you’re at the beach.
If that’s not enough socially distanced exercise, you can then follow the car-free Great Highway (the Great Walkway) along Ocean Beach, to the now-open San Francisco Zoo. (All zoo guests must make a reservation online.)
At an event Friday celebrating the new car-free streets in Golden Gate Park, SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin said, “During Covid, it is more important than ever that families have safe places to be able to exercise outdoors, where they don’t have to be afraid of cars and where they have plenty of room in order to remain socially distant.”
The street configuration through Golden Gate Park can be confusing, but luckily Rec and Park has a handy map. The purple streets on the map below are totally car-free, and the orange streets represent Slow Streets, with limited car access.
The Rec and Park website also provides information on how drivers can access popular destinations in the park.
The new street configurations are part of an effort by SFMTA to promote socially distanced recreation during the pandemic, and to encourage people to use car-free transportation as the city continues reopening.
For those looking to recreate Bay to Breakers, know that costumes are optional, but paper bags for your alcoholic beverages are strongly encouraged.