Sunday afternoon was the last “Sunday Streets” of the season, on Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco. This time the event, which went from 11 to 4 p.m., ran from AT&T Park to Broadway. The Embarcadero is where “Sunday Streets” first started in San Francisco, back in 2008.
Allie Foraker, Danielle Morante, and Kelsey Ziomek were manning the “Girl Gang SF” tent, letting people know about their group, which does volunteer work. “We did a beach clean up with Park & Rec,” explained Foraker. “We promote community service.” At their booth, they were taking Polaroids of people with pictures of famous feminists, such as Frida Kahlo and Susan B. Anthony.
Meanwhile, Richard Johnson, with the San Francisco department of Recreation and Parks, was out explaining how the city’s street sweepers work. “We pick up 5,000 lbs of trash a day per truck, with twenty trucks,” he explained. Johnson showed people the huge, rotating wire brushes that help propel trash under a scoop that then blows it into a storage container in the back. Streetsblog was happy to learn that the department recently got a shipment of smaller trucks that can handle protected bike lanes that aren’t a full car-lane width, such as the lanes at Scott and Fell.
Meanwhile, groups such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the Vision Zero coalition were out recruiting members and letting people know about their work. “Thirty cyclists and pedestrians die every year in San Francisco,” explained Joy Tyler with Vision Zero. “We want to make that zero by 2024, and we’re asking people what a safer street feels like to them.”
A safe street feels like the Embarcadero when access to automobiles is heavily restricted. In lieu of having Sunday Streets every day, SFMTA is working on finally getting protected bike lanes on the Embarcadero, which will go a long way towards that goal.
Sunday, at least, the street was calm and safe enough that people could sit and meditate on the asphalt.
Peter Chu, meanwhile, used the event to take his dog Teyla out for a ride. Little Teyla seemed happy as a…doggie in a pannier? Anyway, Chu said he really appreciated Sunday Streets because it gets people to experience new neighborhoods and brings people together.
The whole event was a welcome break from last week’s political developments.
But it wasn’t to last.
Shortly after Sunday Streets wrapped up, there was a stark reminder of Trump’s election–on 16th Street, demonstrators took to the streets. In a way, it’s another reminder that streets are not only for cars. Streets have been a focus of political demonstration and protest ever since there have been cities.
And that’s something we’re going to see much more of–for the next four years at least–in the streets of San Francisco.