More Cities to Join San Mateo County’s “Streets Alive” This Year

San Mateo County’s first Streets Alive event may have had bad luck with the weather last April, but many Peninsula cities are eager to get another shot at celebrating car-free streets with an even bigger event in 2011.

“Even though it was rained out, it was pretty popular with residents,” said Eric Pawlowsky, an aide to San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom, who declared May 1 Streets Alive Day last week. “There was really some momentum there from the public.”

Thirteen cities are set to participate by allowing people to enjoy healthy activities on open streets, up from eight last year, including Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Daly City, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Millbrae, North Fair Oaks, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Mateo, and South San Francisco.

The Peninsula region will join a global movement of cities from San Francisco to Bogotá, Colombia, where it all started, to close streets to cars and open them up to people for a Sunday afternoon. From Grand Avenue in South San Francisco to Visitacion Avenue in Brisbane to Redwood City’s Courthouse Square, residents will be able to walk, bike, sit, talk, and play in temporary sanctuaries of open public space.

Cities will have community bike rides, fitness activities, and farmers markets as part of their events, said Pawlowsky. Redwood City is said to have the largest event planned, including activities like Bollywood fitness and educational exhibits, while East Palo Alto will tie in their street opening with a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Even with limited funds available for the budding program, some cities that can’t afford motor vehicle closures are finding creative ways to get people active, said Pawlowsky. Residents can enjoy trail walks in Pacifica, the Serramonte Fair in Daly City, and other outdoor community events in Millbrae and North Fair Oaks.