Apr 15, 2012

Scenes from Sunday Streets: GG Park & Great Highway

Families enjoy music by the sea shore while people walk, jog, and bike along the Great Highway.

It was yet another wonderful Sunday Streets holiday today. With car-free streets stretching the entire length of Golden Gate Park and along the Great Highway, there was plenty of room for everyone to explore the west side of town. Despite mainly overcast skies, thousands of people came out and enjoyed the streets to socialize, exercise, and above all, have fun!

This year the route through Golden Gate Park took some new turns. Instead of continuing down JFK all the way down to the beach as in previous years, the route instead turned on Transverse and then continued west on Middle Dr to meet up with MLK. The new route was chosen because it's cheaper to close, is supposedly a more straight-forward route to the beach, and interferes less with traffic and other activities in the Park.

While it's not too well known, Middle Drive is essentially traffic-lite every day, as a series of barriers keep people from driving all the way through. These barricades (shown in the photo below) turn the road into a quiet parking lot instead of a through street. I really enjoyed the more intimate experience of Middle Dr. and think it's great to show people a new side of the Park. There's one point where you're coming down a ridge and get a really nice view of Lindley Meadow and the Polo Fields below.

The one issue with the new route is the very poor pavement. On previous Sunday Streets in Golden Gate Park, many people would roller blade and skate all the way down JFK to the Great Highway, but today most skating activities were unfortunately centered east of Transverse Dr. To be able to comfortably handle the debris, potholes, and broken pavement, you pretty much had to be on your feet or a bike. Heavier bikes, including the famous St. Frankenstein Pianobike, also don't roll so well on the heavily potholed road. Hopefully organizers will take this issue into account when planning the event for next year.

Please enjoy the photos!

This year, Sunday Streets took a new route through Golden Gate Park – venturing down Middle Drive and MLK instead of heading down JFK all the way to the beach. There were some trade-offs with the new course, but it was overall a pleasant change.

Despite the poor pavement, the new route was an opportunity to explore some lesser-known parts of the Park. Before today, I didn't know this lake existed – this is Metson Lake.

Photos continue after the break.

Climbing and sliding down the sand dunes at Ocean Beach is always a favorite activity for kids and parents alike. Kind of makes you appreciate the natural landscape of the Outside Lands.

After construction was delayed for years, the restoration of the Murphy Windmill is complete and the fencing and equipment are gone. The windmill hasn't looked this good since it was originally constructed in 1905!

Farther from the beach, the sun came out to play. A day's worth of roller sports captured the energy of eastern JFK Drive. Here you can see a group of people playing some roller soccer.

Kids assemble on JFK before grooving in synchrony to some funky tunes.

I hope everyone who was out there today enjoyed the car-free streets! I'll see you all out on 6 May for the first of four Mission Sunday Streets held this year. I'm really interested to see how a regular event on Valencia and 24th Streets will feel for the neighborhood.

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