Sunday Streets Will Expand to Six Days This Year

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Taking another page from the international movement spawned by Bogotá's wildly successful Ciclovia, and just two days after Seattle announced its Summer Streets initiative, the official word is out: San Francisco's Sunday Streets campaign is proposing expanding to six Sundays this year, or one a month for six months, beginning April 26th. 

This time around, larger swaths of roads and streets will become car-free and the amount of activities, such as dancing lessons, yoga, children's games and other exercise programs, will dramatically increase. In addition, this year's Sunday Streets will strike more of a celebratory tone, with musical events being coordinated for each daylong program.

The campaign is a project of the MTA, the Mayor's Office and a broad coalition of community groups.

"It's really radical in the fact that it is re-envisioning our uses of city streets," said Susan King, the coordinator of Sunday Streets working through Livable City, the fiscal sponsor. "Anything that is seen as preventing cars from moving around is seen as anti-progress. This is a way of really moving an agenda forward to challenge the dominance of the automobile on our streets."

Last year, up to 15,000 bicyclists, pedestrians, rollerbladers and others turned out for two very successful pilot Sunday Streets. This year's events still need to get through the permitting process, a move expected next week, but there is no opposition. The first event in just six weeks along the waterfront from the Giants ballpark to Aquatic Park enjoys the support of many Fisherman's Wharf merchants who were previously opposed.

"We really need to embrace it otherwise we may be the ones losing out on it," said Karen Bell,  the executive director of the Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District. "We think it's a good thing for families to get out and be healthy. It's almost springtime and we want people to get out and visit Fisherman's Wharf for different reasons."

She added that she expected the Fisherman's Wharf Merchants Association to approve a resolution supporting Sunday Streets at its board meeting next week. Many merchants who were against it last year mostly had a problem with the date, she said.

The longest car-free route for this year's Sunday Streets initiative, at 6.1 miles, will be the May 10th closure of the waterfront route in the Southeast Sector, from the Giants ballpark along the Bay to India Basin and up Third Street. The event will coincide with a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Bay Trail and will allow people to discover parts of the waterfront they may not have considered, such as Heron's Head Park.

All of the events will take place from 10am-1pm, except for the first one next month, which will be held from 9am-1pm. 

Here's the rundown:

  • Sunday April 26th: Waterfront route running along the Embarcadero from the Giants ballpark to Aquatic Park.
  • Sunday, May 10th: Waterfront route in the Southeast Sector, highlighting the San Francisco Bay Trail, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in May. From the Giants ballpark along the Bay from India Basin and up 3rd Street, splitting at Cargo Way.
  • Sunday, June 7th:  New route for 2009 through the Mission, engaging new neighborhoods in the Sunday Streets movement.
  • Sunday, July 19th: Same route through the Mission.
  • Sunday, August 9th: Great Highway route connecting Golden Gate Park to the San Francisco Zoo, along Ocean Beach.
  • Sunday, Sept. 6th: Same route along the Great Highway.

Flickr photo: paulsupwanich