When tens of thousands of people come out to the first of two Sunday Streets in the Mission on June 7th, they will find a route that winds through some of the densest pedestrian streets in San Francisco, a route that at just over two miles is half as long as previous events and should lend to casual strolling perhaps more than cycling.
Sunday Streets organizers released the route map recently on their website and tell Streetsblog that the event will be thick with programming that reflects the cultural diversity of the Mission.
"So much of San Francisco’s culture emanates from the Mission. It is the homeland of almost every cause that’s important in the city," said Livable City Sunday Streets organizer Susan King. But she added that the density of people in the Mission will give this Sunday Streets a much different feeling than the Embarcadero or Bayview events, where destinations along the route could be separated by long stretches of streets without much activity.
"Because of the density and neighborhood of the route, it might be more of a two mile street festival than a bike ride," said King. "It will be a good chance for people to learn to ride a bike, but I don’t know that it’s going to be a chance to get on your bike and hit a good speed."
Wade Crowfoot, the Mayor’s Director of Climate Initiatives, said that the Mayor is very excited to move Sunday Streets beyond the waterfront into the core of the city. He was delighted the merchants on 24th Street had requested the route go down their commercial corridor.
We initially thought that we weren’t going to be able to use 24th street because of the Muni line on it, but we heard from businesses on 24th street that they were hurting in these economic times and they wanted to see Sunday Streets on their corridor. This is an evolution in thinking. There used to be a feeling that on-street parking was necessary for business to thrive. But now they realize that events like Sunday Streets bring more business than could ever come by car.
King said that programing along the route would be important to the character of Mission Sunday Streets and suggested that dance would be a very prominent feature, from performing artists to classes and activities.
Cheryl Burke Dance, which has been an active participant in the four previous Sunday Streets events and is a partner in Shape Up San Francisco, has programmed three different classes for the event, including Swing, Salsa, and Belly Dancing. "I can’t say enough positive about Sunday Streets," said Cheryl Burke Dance studio manager Janet Fjeldstad. "It’s fun for our teachers, it’s fun for participants."
She added: "I do expect that the dance pod will be more heavily participated because there will be more walkers than the Embarcadero and Bayview."
The route will pass from Dolores Park down 19th Street to Valencia,
then south on Valencia to 24th Street, east again to York, and then end
at two points: Garfield Square and Rolph Playground.
King explained that organizers have been working with SFPD and the MTA
to coordinate volunteers to help with logistics at the many
intersections where traffic will be prevented from crossing the route. And she said that while people might assume the Mission has a lot of open space and parks, there is still little green space for residents of the neighborhood.
"Part of the goal is to provide open space to communities that lack them, but there is limited physical open space there. Dolores Park is on the edge of the Mission and is already packed on weekends," she said. "Our focus is going to be on programming in the other two parks and providing opportunity for people to get out in the street and move around."
Mission resident Nancy Gonzalez said she is excited for the event in the Mission because it will not be like a parade, when onlookers are forced to the side of the street and to sidewalks.
"I think that 24th street will be packed with church goers and business. The hustle and bustle of people on the sidewalks – its going to be nice not to have cars so you can bike and walk," she said. "My family – three of my sisters and two of my brothers live in the Mission – has talked about meeting up to make an afternoon of it."
Gonzalez said that her mom, who lives on the route, is concerned how she and her friend are going to be able to drive from home to church with the street closures. She’s also worried about the demographic of the crowd.
"In her mind she was thinking it was going to be more like Carnaval," said Gonzalez. "During Carnaval after she gets out of church at 22nd and 23rd on Hampshire she’s confronted by lots of nudity."
Laughing, Gonzalez added, "I told her there will very likely not be a lot of naked people at Sunday Streets."