Sunday Streets  keeps on growing, with 10 car-free events coming to neighborhoods around the city this year.
This year’s schedule includes four consecutive months of the ever-popular  Mission route, a new route in the Excelsior, and a modified route through Golden Gate Park. The Civic Center/Tenderloin route was also taken off the table this year due to logistical challenges, but it is expected to return.
Why so many events in the Mission? Sunday Streets organizer Susan King said planners are using the route to evaluate the potential for a recurring event, with the goal of establishing weekly events like those in Bogotá, Colombia, which originally inspired Sunday Streets.
“Sunday Streets is turning the corner,” said King. “We’ve gone from being a pilot project that turned out to be more successful than any of us really had an idea that it would evolved into a moving event. We’re trying to get a pattern.”
In April, the Great Highway/Golden Gate Park route  will be partly moved off of John F. Kennedy Drive onto Middle Drive and Martin Luther King Drive to create a more intuitive route that requires fewer staff to direct traffic, said King. In past events, the middle stretch of JFK west of Transverse Drive has seen few people stopping, she said, and Middle Drive is already off limits to through car traffic. The change would also remove a sharp turn on the western end of the route, making it easier to follow (see the map below).
The route could also happen more regularly in coming years, as King noted that plans are in the works  to close the Great Highway south of Sloat Boulevard due to continuing erosion along the beach. The highway is already regularly closed to car traffic because of sand blockages.
In the Outer Mission/Excelsior neighborhoods, where King says merchants and residents have “not let up” in asking the city to bring Sunday Streets, a new route is being planned to finish off the season in October.
King also noted that the Civic Center/Tenderloin route — which was marred by rain one year  and by the Outside Lands  festival the next  — won’t happen this year. Planners hope to create a more attractive route in future years that is less disruptive to Muni and requires fewer staff to direct traffic. “It was, for a variety of reasons, our least well-attended route, and also double the cost of some of our other routes,” said King.
San Franciscans can also look forward to returning events on the Embarcadero, Bayview, Chinatown, and Western Addition/NoPa.
Here’s the Sunday Streets 2012 schedule (subject to change):
- March 11: Embarcadero – season kick off
- April 15: Great Highway/Golden Gate park — new route through the park
- May 6: Mission
- June 3: Mission
- July 1: Mission
- July 22: Bayview
- August 5: Mission
- August TBA: Chinatown
- September 9: Western Addition/NoPa/Alamo Square
- October 21: Outer Mission/Excelsior