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Check out the permanent car-free space in McLaren Park: Shelley Drive

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Last month, we threw a 4th birthday party for JFK Promenade.

But there’s another people-first space in San Francisco that shares this birthday: the half-mile stretch of car-free Shelley Drive in McLaren Park.

On April 28, 2020 during the darkest days of the pandemic, Mayor London Breed used emergency powers to create temporary, car-free, safe street space for people in Golden Gate Park and McLaren Park.

While both car-free spaces proved popular and needed, making JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park permanent took two major campaigns. Thankfully, Shelley Drive’s path to permanence was much easier.

On October 24, 2023, with no opposition – and strong support from Walk SF and our members – the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation making car-free Shelley Drive permanent.

Walk SF staff recently took a lunchtime walk on Shelley Drive / Promenade to celebrate this car-free space. It was lush, quiet, and provided great views to the east to Candlestick Point and the Bay, and to the south towards San Bruno Mountain.

Some things to know for your walk on car-free Shelley Drive:

  • If you love dogs, you’ll love Shelley Drive. It’s a hot spot for dogwalkers on weekdays.
  • It’s somewhat sloped, rather than flat like most of JFK Promenade. This makes it less conducive to very young kids on scooters, but is a great space for young kids on bikes.
  • While you’re there, do the Philosopher’s Way Trail. It goes 2.7-miles around the perimeter of McLaren Park, and you enjoy some deep thoughts along the way on plaques installed on the path. Here’s a map of all the trails in McLaren Park.
  • The 29 Sunset Muni bus provides direct service to McLaren Park. Note it drops you very close to the start of the car-free space. The Peru Playground Area is a good place to get onto the opposite end of the car-free section of Shelley Drive quickly.

Car-free Shelley Drive represents one more step toward the pedestrian-first city we want San Francisco to be.

But we still have a long way to go, as you know. The fate of the car-free space on the Great Highway is still very much in the balance (link). And while car-free and car-lite spaces are crucial refuges for pedestrians, we need every street to be safe.

So be sure you’re signed up for our newsletter to stay on top of everything Walk SF is doing to win safe streets for all, everywhere!

Love car-free spaces in San Francisco? Show your love with a donation to Walk SF!

Banner image by Marta Lindsey

Three individuals wearing raincoats pose for the photo. The person in the front is holding a map.