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.