“Not a single automobile: The silence is deafening, you can actually hear the branches dripping moisture, squirrels scrambling through the underbrush — and the birds!” wrote Chronicle reporter Herb Caen about car-free Sundays in the park, back in 1973. After all those years – and a lot of hard work by community members and environmental, park, and neighborhood groups – Mayor Newsom finally signed legislation to make car-free Saturdays a reality six months a year, from April through September, starting Saturday, May 26th, Memorial Day weekend.
Trial of the proposal for more safe, affordable, and accessible public space began on Memorial Day last summer (and continued through September), as joggers, bicyclists, families, and people from throughout the city came out to enjoy the first “Healthy Saturday” on a foggy, yet wonderfully car-free day in the park. Upon that success, the jury was still out, until a comprehensive city study commissioned by Mayor Newsom and Supervisor McGoldrick last spring sealed the deal. The report proved that car-free space more than doubles visitor’s usage of the park, increases attendance at the de Young and local businesses and causes no significant negative impacts on parking or traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods. Sounds like sunshine to me!