Despite Rain Threat, First 2011 Sunday Streets Graced with Some Sunshine

Despite the prevailing threat of rain, the clouds scattered for yesterday’s first Sunday Streets of 2011 from Fisherman’s Wharf to China Basin, allowing intermittent sunshine to grace the San Francisco waterfront. The event attracted thousands of people, including Mayor Ed Lee, who were able to tuck away their umbrellas and enjoy the car-free streets.

The new 11am-4pm schedule worked very well for the day, allowing people to play on the Embarcadero even later into the afternoon, said Sunday Streets coordinator Susan King of the non-profit Livable City, which organizes the healthy, community-oriented events.

“Thank goodness for the extra hour because as the day wore on it became clearer, literally and figuratively, that it was going to be a nice afternoon and it was,” said King. “There was enough sunshine that I was sunburned.”

King said the attendance was lighter than usual but she felt vindicated by the Sunday Streets rain policy, which calls for volunteers and organizers to set up regardless of the wet stuff, and decide by noon whether to keep it going. Yesterday the skies dropped the last bit of rain during the noon hour, and it was dry for the rest of the day.

"Clouds loom over Cupid's Span." Photo: geekstinkbreath

“A lot of people stayed away and a lot of our programs canceled and I got some rueful emails from some of our program partners yesterday who said, ‘dang we should have come out!” said King. “It’s much easier to set up and break down than it is to decide not to set up and then try to change that.”

King said she also doesn’t want to promote the image that car-free space is fair-weathered. The Sunday Streets website had encouraged people to bring their umbrellas and get out and enjoy the car-free streets regardless of the weather.

“A portion of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park is off limits to cars every Sunday, rain or shine, and I think that, you know what, a car-free space is still a car-free space,” said King.

Kudos to everyone who made the first event of the year happen, including the nearly 100 volunteers organized this year by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. It takes a lot of work! Props also to the SFMTA and its crews who were out on the streets.

My colleague Damien Newton of Streetsblog Los Angeles also got to experience Sunday Streets yesterday, and he ran into one of the organizers of LA’s CicLAvia. Check out his post here.

The next Sunday Streets is the “Penguins to Penguins” route through Golden Gate Park and along the Great Highway on April 10, rain or shine!

Mayor Ed Lee, center, takes time to pose for a photo at Sunday Streets. Photo: Mayor's Office