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Testing Road Closures in Parks

The Presidio, San Francisco; Streetsblog.org

The Presidio, San Francisco; Streetsblog.org

Speaking of National Parks in urban areas, there’s some news from the Presidio in San Francisco that the park is experimenting with some road closures. Devising ways of reducing car use and encouraging non-motorized transportation within parks is becoming more popular with concerns about climate change, obesity and mental health and just a general interest from society in living in cities that are not preoccupied with moving automobiles.  As reported by Streetsblog SF:

In an effort to make the Presidio function less like a traffic shortcut and more like a national park, the Presidio Trust is trying out an idea that’s caught on in the dense city that borders it: a trial street closure. From today until October 27, Presidio Boulevard will be closed to private automobiles between West Pacific Avenue and Upper Simonds Loop [map PDF], as the Presidio Trust and the MTA study traffic impacts. Muni and emergency vehicles will still have full access……Traffic on Presidio Boulevard is about 60 percent cut-through, compared to 50 percent in the park as a whole.

This is a problem in many parks: car drivers using the park roads (meant mainly for recreation) as cut through routes for commuting and other non-recreational trips — something that really has “nothing in common with the park proper,” as Frederick L. Olmsted might say.

The evidence from road closures that have occurred shows that little negative impact is seen on traffic (which may be attributed to the sound planning of officials implementing the closures). In San Francisco, a study of closures at Golden Gate Park found little impact on neighboring streets, and even in traffic-clogged New York City, when Central Park’s loop road was totally shut down for Christo’s “Gates” project, the city found there was little impact on overall traffic.

As said, good planning is key. And as with other places, the Presidio is running test closures to allow commuters to adjust and officials to measure impact. Successful road closures are based on sound evidence rather than desire alone to reduce the role of automobiles.

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2 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, I disagree with the move, especially the WAY it was done. There has been way too much randomness to the decisions made by the Trust over the last decade. The most glaring contradiction was to see roads calmed and closed to avoid too much traffic inside the Presidio, only months after a two-year battle by the Trust to push through plans to develop the Main Post and add attractions like a hotel and an art museum that promised to bring in thousands more cars every day.
    I do understand that the Presidio is in a unique and difficult position as it is a National Park for nature and recreation that must also support itself (lots of tenants to pay the rent.) That is a paradox, BUT the Trust WAY of handling this challenge is very insensitive to all the different parties they affect. Their actions do not make sense. How is closing one road going to really CALM traffic? Arguello is now very very busy, and slow- good, but the traffic did not go away. Why divert traffic into one of the most dangerous streets to pedestrians and children, ie West Pacific? Why not work more carefully with the Doyle Drive redesign and the temporary closures? Bicyclists and hikers may not really want to hear this, but people like me go into the Presidio everyday to do business (dry cleaners, trainer, physical therapist, restaurant, bank, school…) And the Presidio needs me to do that, so that their tenants can pay the rent. And residents who pay rent deserve a say on how things are changes there. So, sorry, there are many different interest-groups to serve. And the Presidio Trust is not handing this challenge well at all.
    Of course, reducing traffic in a park is an honorable goal. But it is not that simple with the Presidio.
    Unfortunately, the Trust has lost its credibility with me and many others as its actions are insensitive and do not follow any pattern, let alone a solid mission which all are informed of. That is why so many are outraged.

  2. Hey, correct post out there. incorrect information, specially from the major news corperations with the big slants to the left or right. Did you see last nights Red Eye? haha, that was hilarious! Sorry, I am rambling along again. Have a Good 1!

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