Sunday Streets to Become Permanent in San Francisco

Sunday_Streets.jpgPhoto: Bryan Goebel
On the weekend eve of the final Sunday Streets of the year, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that the seasonal events creating wide swaths of car-free space will become permanent in San Francisco.

“This Sunday’s event is the finale for 2009, but Sunday Streets will be back in 2010 with more routes, longer hours, more San Francisco neighborhoods and more programs at each event,” Newsom said in a statement. “We have created a new tradition in San Francisco that will improve our quality of life for years to come.”

This year's six Sunday Streets proved to be a real success, with tens of thousands of people spilling into the streets. They were also embraced by merchants, with calls for expanded hours. It left many of us asking: Why can't we do this every Sunday?

Susan King, who organizes Sunday Streets through Livable City, said the Mayor's office is talking about holding eight events next year, but she said nine is also a possibility. The hours will likely be extended, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (instead of 2), and stressed that anything beyond that would be taxing on the volunteers.

"I know people would like it to go later but with the wind and everything else that kicks up it's really hard to keep everyone that's out there working the event motivated beyond five hours," she said.

Next year's Sunday Streets will likely be expanded to underserved neighborhoods like the Tenderloin and Western Addition and "loop around to the great lawn at City Hall as home base," King said. There's also interest in expanding the route in SoMa, and returning to the Mission (this year's events drew upwards of 25,000 people), the Bayview District and Ocean Beach.

King said Supervisor Carmen Chu has been "astoundingly supportive" of Sunday Streets and helped turn the last event through GG Park and the beach into a success. "Of all the supervisors, her office has stepped up the most passionately," she said.

Besides Sunday Streets and a car-free Golden Gate Park on Sundays, "there's also talk of creating another set of roadways that aren't really heavily used on the weekends to have kind of a permanent closure." She said it would also be interesting to hold a Sunday Streets with no programming to see what people would do on their own with a blank canvas.

"I would also like to see individual neighborhoods going and closing off their own streets and then having the ability to bike ride through the city to various car-free nooks and crannies, like how they do the art walk, where we have open streets and designed routes throughout the city to these various car-free spaces."

King said she is encouraged to hear the Mayor's office talking about being "really bold" in moving forward with car-free spaces to keep up with the demand and interest that Sunday Streets has generated.

"The possibilities are really endless," King said, adding that she's confident she can leverage the success of this year's events to raise the money needed for next year and "that we won't have to be hands and mouth like we were this time." Each event easily costs between $25,000 to $30,000, with the bulk of expenses geared toward traffic safety personnel.

The last Sunday Streets of 2009 in Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway this weekend promises to end the year's events with a big bang. Some highlights from King: 

  • Rock the Bike teams up with Young Performers International to provide a full lineup of live music powered by Rock the Bikes pedal powered stage. Young Performers International features young musicians (ages 11-14) performing rock n roll classics. In Golden Gate Park at the intersection of MLK South and Bernice Rodgers (near the western exit from the Park).
  • Cyclecide will bring out two of their pedal powered amusement rides made out of bikes. Look for them in the kids area, just north of the Lincoln and Great Highway intersection.
  • Athletes Burn Rubber: Bianchi fitness brings out the human tire pull competition set to live music from the Brother's Comatose. At Lincoln and Great Highway.
  • The Riptide and Taraval Merchants present their 3rd annual Taraval Street Festival in conjunction with Sunday Streets. The fair starts at 10, and live music goes from 12-6. Taraval Street, between 46th and 47th Aves. 
  • The SF Zoo brings out their zoomobile, Penguin mascot, Leaping Lemur game for the kids, joined by Bluegrass band the Barbary Ghosts playing live bluegrass from 10:30-2:00. Sloat and Upper Great Highway.
  • Look for Bike & Roll's funbike built for 7. It will be roving the route from 10-2, hop on for a ride!

See you on the streets this Sunday, and don't forget to send your photos to our Flickr pool!