Excitement Builds for First Sunday Streets of 2010

Embarcadero_pic.jpgPhoto: busbozo

With just over a week to go before the first Sunday Streets ciclovia of 2010, organizers are working overtime to get all the details squared away for the March 14th street closure, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and bladers to the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf.

The route for the event will span from UCSF Mission Bay to Fisherman’s Wharf, with various activity nodes along the way. At the intersection of
Jefferson and Powell streets, the Fisherman’s Wharf
Community Benefit District
(FWCBD) will host a Family Fitness Fair, including pedal-powered amusement park rides from Cyclecide, the Bike Rodeo.

Susan King, principal Sunday Streets organizer for Livable City, said the concerns from merchants about closing streets to cars in previous years had dissipated, and the business community has embraced the benefits of large crowds enjoying car-free streets.

"As the event becomes more popular and merchants like the event, the issue of not having access to a few miles of roadway for a few hours on Sunday afternoon is more acceptable now," said King.

King noted that the partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which is the lead organizer from the city, has facilitated a number of logistical hurdles that made previous Sunday Streets more challenging.

"With the MTA on the inside it opens a lot of doors. The team is more fluid with what’s going to happen. We understand what needs to be done," said King, who noted that similar ciclovia events have been most successful when the local department of transportation is the lead agency.

"The most successful programs are those internalized in the fabric of the local and regional government," said King.

According to King, the most difficult part of coordinating Sunday Streets this year is nurturing fundraising relationships. Each of the nine Sunday Streets this year is expected to cost approximately $50,000, costs which should be underwritten by private, commercial partners.

Sunday_Streest_FW_route.jpg

MTA Spokesperson Judson True was very excited about Sunday Streets, saying it was a rare highlight for the agency amid numerous bad headlines. "Obviously a lot of the news about the SFMTA is dark these days, so it’s nice to have such a positive series of events planned," said True. True said Sunday Streets "dovetails with our mission as an agency," and that it is "no longer a pilot, no longer an experiment" but "an institution."

Unlike the many other street fairs in San Francisco, said True, during Sunday Streets, "the streets themselves are the fair."

In a marked turnabout from the first Sunday Streets in Fisherman’s Wharf, when merchants were vehemently opposed to closing streets to cars, this year merchants are incredibly supportive, according to FWCBD Executive Director Kevin Carroll. Based on surveys conducted by the CBD, nearly two-thirds of visitors to the area during last year’s Sunday Streets were local San Franciscans.

"There is even more of an appetite to work with the event and make it as great as can be for the neighborhood," said Carroll. "Last year we were able to show that we could put on an event and what was really exciting was how many locals came to the event."

One of the highlights of the Fisherman’s Wharf programming events, said Carroll, will be the inclusion of Cyclecide, the Bicycle Rodeo. One of Cyclecide’s club members, Laird Rickard, said they would have two pedal-powered amusement park rides: Cyclefuge (a bicycle-powered radial swing-set) and Kiddie Carousel, popular with the younger crowd.

Rickard echoed Carroll’s feeling that the programming at Fisherman’s Wharf would draw a particularly local crowd. " I’m hoping it will be a good opportunity for locals to get out," he said, noting that he rarely ventures to the Wharf except to satiate an occasional need for clam chowder in bread bowl.

"With Sunday Streets, it’s great. It will bring out a lot of locals."

  • Maureen

    Attention Merchants: This San Francisco family blocks our whole day out to attend Sunday Streets. It’s a big event for our family.

  • I’ll be gone, but hopefully there is a huge turn out. I’m sure my wife will head down and check out the action.

    Also glad to hear the merchants coming around.

  • Alex

    That is a fantastic change in attitude. Could multiple unit trains on the F line be next? ::crosses fingers::

  • I think running the E-line during this would be great. Get people from Caltrain, take them up to the wharf, then they can walk back to the train. Plus, it would show the pent-up demand for the route.

  • The only time I’ve been to Fishermen’s Wharf in the last five years was during last year’s Sunday Streets. Hope we get good weather for it.

  • It seems to be a constant in SF: Something new is proposed, then, without anything but feelings and rhetoric, local businesses scream bloody murder, said thing happens, then said businesses realize wow this was a good thing after all.

    Let’s learn from this, shall we?

  • Nick

    Is there going to be any on-street advocacy? For example, the bike lane along the Embarcadero is pretty narrow.

    Wasn’t there an idea to make one side a 2-way physically protected lane painted green? I’d like to know what has to happen for that to happen.

  • Nick, I’d just be happy if they enforced the current bike lane. Going in front of the Ferry Building is always an adventure in weaving around double parkers. Plus, I think being that close to the water makes cabbies forget how to use their blinkers. I swear I see my life flash before my eyes at least a couple times every day.

  • ZA

    Awesome! Looking forward to it! I hope the sun comes out.

  • patrick

    This is interesting, merchants were adamantly opposed to it when it was initially proposed, saying that it would kill their businesses, but after the first year, they were guardedly optimistic, and now they are wholeheartedly supportive.

    Sounds vaguely familiar… oh yeah, parking meter rates…

  • Mike

    how can you have summer streets in the winter?!

  • CBrinkman

    Thank you SBlog for reminding everyone of the upcoming fun. The merchant support this year is overwhelming – come out and play and don’t forget to volunteer for Sunday Streets. It couldn’t happen without all the amazing volunteers who help out. sundaystreetssf.com 9 Sunday Streets this year!

  • @ Mike- We have Summer Streets in the winter because, if you haven’t noticed, SF has winter in the summer : )

  • JohnB

    Not to (literally) rain on everyone’s parade here but how is this different from the street fairs that SF has been having for years now e.g. the Haight Street Fair?

    And sure, merchants love it, or at least they should, because of the crowds it brings in.

    But it’s only one day a year, or a few days a year. And always on a Sunday. Otherwise it really would be too disruptive to commerce.

    So yeah, it sounds like fun but in the grand scheme isn’t it just a distraction rather than a long-term solution to SF’s transit problems?

  • icarus12

    Sunday Streets is political candy to make public transit advocates happier. It does next to nothing to improve mobility for anyone in the city. But sure, have your agit-prop, inconvenience more people than you entertain, and then get back to the business of building a transit system that works.

  • @JohnB – Giants games are disruptive to commerce, look at the mess they cause in SoMa. Unless of course, you realize that the Giants game IS commerce.

  • Wade Crowfoot

    Congrats to Susan and the others for planning a great 2010 Sunday Streets schedule. Can’t wait to get down to the Wharf this weekend!