As if the lure of playing in the street wasn’t enough, city leaders and organizers gathered at City Hall yesterday afternoon to promote the first of nine Sunday Streets events this year, which will run along the Embarcadero up to Fisherman’s Wharf [route map PDF] this Sunday.
The six Sunday Streets events last year managed to attract between 16,000 and 20,000 people each, and the biggest complaint was that there weren’t enough of them, said MTA Executive Director Nat Ford.
"Last year, we checked with all the participants and they said they wanted more Sunday Streets. We’re delivering that," said Ford. "They said that they wanted to have more activities. We’ve provided that. And they wanted it to be diverse around the city, so I think we’ve answered all of the requests by our citizens."
On top of that, they’ll be longer: each event will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. this year.
Sunday Streets is a chance to walk, bicycle, and generally play in the streets, all for free – but merchants have embraced the events as a welcome economic boost as well. "We’re really excited this year because we’re going to be able to welcome everyone into the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf for a Family Fitness Fair," said Kevin Caroll, Executive Director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District.
Sustainable transportation advocates are geared up too: the tag line for Sunday Streets this year is "No Sunday Drivers. Guaranteed," and Ford made it clear that he’s serious about that. "We expect everyone who will be joining us on these Sundays to use Muni, to walk or to take their bike to get to these Sunday Streets venues," said Ford.
The events take a lot of coordination between partners in the city’s government, non-profits and businesses; it also takes a lot of volunteers.
"One of the most important elements of Sunday Streets is our volunteers," said Susan King of Livable City, the non-profit that has led organizing for Sunday Streets. "We had over 1,000 volunteers over the last two years give up part of their day, instead of having fun, making sure that everybody stays safe."
If you’re able to help out at one or more of the events, head over to the Sunday Streets website to sign up. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition coordinates the volunteer program, meaning you’ll get to work with Kate McCarthey, who just received the 2010 Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm Award from The Alliance for Biking and Walking for her "tireless enthusiasm to harness the power of individuals to better bicycling."
As for this Sunday, the forecast calls for 60-degree weather and clear skies: all the more reason to come out and enjoy San Francisco’s own ciclovía.