Bay Area Cities Open Streets This Sunday for World Health Day

Streets_Alive_banner.jpg

Numerous Bay Area cities are joining municipalities around the world this Sunday, April 11th, to embrace the health and community benefits of ciclovias — or car-free events that encourage walking, biking and physical activity — as part of the World Health Organization’s 1,000 Cities 1,000 Lives, World
Health Day 2010.

Like the incredibly popular Sunday Streets events in San Francisco the past three years, city leaders from South San Francisco to Redwood City have designated this Sunday as Streets Alive, when they will close streets to cars and open them up as public space.

"We need to build exercise back into people’s daily activities. When
people are used to doing everything by car it’s hard to get them to
imaging moving in a different way," said San Mateo County Health Department Chief Jean Fraser. Fraser said events like this are important for connecting physical
activity and the built environment, which is relatively far from the
mainstream thinking about health.

"One of the interesting things we find is that people tend
to focus more on food and less on exercise," said Fraser. "If push came
to shove in really helping people’s health, if you could only choose
one, the science is pretty compelling that exercise is more important."

Added Fraser, "When you make exercise something that happens as
a consequence of doing
some other daily activity, then you can meet those daily requirements
just by moving yourself through the day."

Cities in San Mateo County didn’t settle on a single route for this year, so the events will be focused locally, with each participating city coordinating events and programs on the routes they have selected. The events will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and will vary by city. Organizers said they are hopeful that if this year’s events are successful and draw an audience, they will be able to expand the ciclovia next year to be on a unified route through many more San Mateo cities. The most obvious street for that would be El Camino Real.

"We would like to open El Camino Real to ciclovia," said San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom, whose office has been instrumental in organizing Streets Alive events. Groom said she hopes the foundation laid by this years events will lead to "a much bigger, signature event" for April 2011.

Groom said she was in New York City by coincidence the day that they closed Broadway to cars and opened it up as a pedestrian mall in the heart of Times Square. Over the course of three days, she saw how quickly people’s perceptions of the space changed.

"At first, people didn’t know what the heck it was. On the second day,  people were having coffee and using their laptops, next day street vendors were selling sandwiches," she said, arguing that if it can work in the heart of Manhattan, it can work in San Mateo County.

"There’s no reason, I think, why we can’t do this on a more regular basis."

Sunday Streets in San Francisco

In San Francisco, the second Sunday Streets of the year will wind through Golden Gate Park and along the Great Highway, where several miles of roadway will be opened to cyclists, skaters, and pedestrians from 10 am to 3 pm. See the route map below and be sure to get out on your favorite mode of non-motorized transportation this Sunday.

Great_Highway_route_1.jpg

Watch the World Health Organization 1,000 Cities 1,000 Lives promotional video here:

  • i’m totally psyched for this! i can’t believe the Peninsula is getting on board. so awesome.

    We would like to open El Camino Real to ciclovia

    and _that_ would be totally amazing. El Camino Real — the second worst road in the world, bested only by Cesar Chavez, for being contaminated by cars and generally anti-human. _the_ primary connected road from SF to SJ — amazing. imagine what kind of precedent it could set for the redesign of El Camino Real, which I’m *sure* will try to ignore bikes as much as possible.

    awesome stuff – can’t wait to see the reaction after this weekend.

  • Joshua

    Great to see the south Bay getting more involved. GO south bay’er get on those bikes!

  • Gary

    I have to agree with the article, we are hemmed in by cars running amok everywhere, the citizens have to constantly watch out of fear of being hit everytime they go out.

    You’d think the insurance companies would be pushing carless areas too because it promotes better health.

    There’s a concern about the nation being obese, especially kids. The answer should be obvious. I have a neighbor who takes the car for errands just two blocks away.

  • Some of the routes are really short and aren’t really taking any “chances”, but it is a great first step. I say that because RWC’s route is the same as the one they close down for Friday art walks. I think they should close Broadway north for another 3-4 blocks.

    But yeah, the more we can get the car-centric peninsula walking or biking, the better. Cheers to spreading the fun.

  • CBrinkman

    Yay South Bay – and don’t forget Oakland too – they are planning for Oaklavia in June. Baby steps are fine, start small and build up. Guadalajara has been building their route up for four years, it’s now at 45 miles and counting. Sunday Car Free El Camino Real? I can totally see it happening.

    And please don’t forsake Sunday Streets this Sunday – rain shmain, we’re tough, right?

  • Streets Alive

    Despite the rain, many cities in San Mateo County are still opening streets today!

    From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., cities across the county will close streets to traffic and open streets and public places such as parks, plazas and trails as a way to promote healthy outdoor activity for a healthy future. Today, you are invited to be active, rediscover your neighborhood, visit other communities, and experience the freedom of safe, car-free spaces. Many cities will hold the event, rain or shine, so come out and play! For the latest information, visit http://www.streetsalivesmc.org.

    Participating cities include:
    Belmont
    Brisbane
    Foster City
    Millbrae
    North Fair Oaks
    Pacifica
    Redwood City
    San Carlos
    San Mateo
    South San Francisco

  • Mac

    Redwood City consistently sucks at everything…the town has no bicycle master plan in the works, has a downtown disconnected from residential areas, and has historically been the last to take any chances of being awesome in any way. For this event they literally closed down 150 yards of road.

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