Golden Gate Park is the most famous park in San Francisco.
Bicycling has been popular in the park as long as bicycles have existed, starting in the 19th century. It’s been controversial for just as long. Mountain bikes have also used the trails from their beginning. In the 1990’s, the Golden Gate Park Master Plan proposed designating trails in the park for mountain bike usage.
A trail designation pilot program started in December 2018. As of Spring 2020, this pilot is expected to become a permanent route.
The multi-use trail pilot program includes about 3.7 miles of trails, which range from singletrack to gravel roads. It takes you from Park Presidio to the Murphy Windmill via trails near Fulton, Transverse, and Lincoln. Then, it runs along a historic rail route near the beach, looping back to Bernice Rodgers Way. You can go back on the same trails, or make a loop by using the paved bike/multi use path which runs across the park. Large maps and smaller signposts guide the way at intersections along the trail.
SF Urban Riders believes that 3.7 miles is a start towards recognizing the need of bicyclists in the park. We would be excited to see the pilot grow in the future.
The western park is rustic in style, and home to historic bridle trails which also are great for cycling. The park is flat by San Francisco standards, which makes it an excellent locations for beginners–both youth and adults.
It is easy to cover the dirt trails in the current pilot trail in 20 minutes at a casual pace. Expansion of designated trails should reflect common usage, such as going across the park on one trail and returning on another dirt trail. Or using interior trails to explore or train. The people riding bikes on the trails range from first time riders to professional racers to multiple youth groups, and are a wide range of age and income levels. More trails need to be designated for bikes to accommodate these needs.
You can see the pilot project web page here. To make it easy to follow, we’ve added these trails to Trailforks, and included a route following the dirt trails in the pilot program. You can see it at https://www.trailforks.com/route/ggp-trails-pilot-the-dirt-trails/
What can you do to expand bike access?
The pilot program started in December 2018 and Rec Park is looking for feedback, and looking at impacts. Here is what you can do to help.
1: Let the Rec Park Department know your feelings on the pilot! Write an email to LaMonté Bishop, Rec Park Manager of Policy and Community Affairs. Let Rec Park know you’d like to leave feedback on the Golden Gate Park Trails Pilot Program. Be polite and express what you’d like to see. Let them know how long you’ve been riding in the park, what you’ve seen, and what you need to meet your needs. You can send it to LaMonte.Bishop@sfgov.org; copy firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like us to hear about it.
2: Respect the park. The main push back we’ve gotten from the Rec Park Department has been about damage to the park from bicycles. There are a few well known spots where people have been riding down steep hills or planted areas, causing significant erosion. Don’t do that! Golden Gate Park is unusual in that most of it has a very shallow layer of good soil on top of what is historically a sand dune. It’s not that hard to damage that in a way which is hard to fix.
Respect other park users too. This has not been a major issue to date, but could become one. Trail Bells are highly recommended, especially anywhere there are visibility issues. Be courteous to other users, or as the saying goes, slow and say hello.
Enjoy riding the trails, and be sure to let Rec Park know that you like them and want to see the pilot expand.