Sunday Streets in the Mission Shows the Demand for Pedestrianized Streets

Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/geekstinkbreath/5702497082/in/pool-977628@N21/##geekstinkbreath##

An estimated 25,000 people turned out for a beautiful albeit windy Sunday Streets in the Mission yesterday, tying the attendance record for the city’s “official block party.” For many a participant, experiencing car-free Valencia and 24th Streets didn’t just continue to beg the question “why not every week?” but rather, “why not all the time?”

“This is freedom. This is liberation,” Mayor Ed Lee told Streetsblog as he strolled down a car-free Valencia Street. “Everyone’s having a great time, and I’m out here seeing how people feel and maybe generating some ideas of how we can keep more of this going.”

Parents, kids, and the young at heart filled streets lined with music, dance, food, and neighbors relaxed in lawn chairs in places that would be dominated by cars on any other day. Merchants ventured out from their indoor retreats to mix with the outdoor street life as patrons filled their shops and restaurants.

Sunday Streets coordinator Susan King said some participants complained the liberated space was too little for the amount of people flocking to the event from all over the city.

“The pressure on the street and the space is a result of pent up need for more space,” said King. “It was a human-powered traffic jam, but everybody was stopping because there was so much to see and do.”

The huge demand points to a much-needed reassessment of how the city uses its most valuable commercial corridors, which are mostly dominated by private automobiles. As pedestrianized areas, Valencia and 24th Streets could be experienced in a completely different way.

“This public space and our ability to use it is of value,” said King. “So many people got out yesterday that wouldn’t have got out there or taken their kids for a bike ride unless there was a place like Sunday Streets for them to go.”

Judging by the huge demand from merchants and residents, Sunday Streets seems to be succeeding in its goals to get more and more people re-envisioning public space.

“Not only do we have very little opposition, but we have huge enthusiasm and huge support,” said King. “Merchant associations are saying, ‘More, more, more! What can we do? This is so great. We’re so excited’.”

The Mayor said in August he hopes to head-up the first Sunday Streets for Chinatown and North Beach, two dense neighborhoods also ripe for car-free streets.

"Beat Feet Orchestra (a.k.a. One Woman Band) heads east on 24th St." Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/geekstinkbreath/5701925317/in/pool-977628@N21/##geekstinkbreath##
Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/hayesandjenn/5700979856/sizes/z/in/photostream/##jdeeringdavis##
Flickr photo: ##http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3153/5702495486_871cdfd52a_z.jpg##geekstinkbreath##
Mayor Ed Lee visits the Walk SF booth. Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/bubbletea/5702725616/sizes/m/in/photostream/##bubbletea1##
  • kevin

    too much vehicular traffic cross traffic though

  • OctaviusIII

    The photos make me think of some old context shots of San Francisco from Star Trek: no cars, pedestrians filling the streets and planter boxes down the middle. Looked like Van Ness, too.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great program. Thank you Mayor Newsom and Mayor Lee.

  • I thought the level of cross-through access was pretty acceptable. Seemed like every other intersection was completely blocked. Seems like a good balance to me.

  • Jim

    I got hit by a bike, but still had a great time!

  • jd

    Agreed. Breaks up the flow of the event too much. Pedestrians have to deal with dodging cars every other day of the year and every street, so it seems more than far that cars have to dodge the pedestrians and bicyclists for once.

  • Sorry

    Sunday Streets was lots of fun. But I’m not sure it says anything about regular pedestrianization. It’s a street party, of a similar but different sort to say Bay 2 Breakers or the Fillmore Jazz Fest or the Folsom Street Fair. All of these show that prohibiting cars from streets from time to time is a good thing, but not that it works full time.
    Note that if you just wanted more space to move, both ends of the event were pretty empty (Duboce to 16th or Bryant to Potrero).

  • CLDavidson SF

    How about incorporating Irving Street into the Sunday Streets in the Sunset! 😀

  • saranoh

    WE WOULD/COULD BE SOO EURO IF WE DID !

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