Bay Area Cities Open Streets This Sunday for World Health Day


Numerous Bay Area cities are joining municipalities around the world this Sunday, April 11th, to embrace the health and community benefits of ciclovias — or car-free events that encourage walking, biking and physical activity — as part of the World Health Organization’s 1,000 Cities 1,000 Lives, World
Health Day 2010.

Like the incredibly popular Sunday Streets events in San Francisco the past three years, city leaders from South San Francisco to Redwood City have designated this Sunday as Streets Alive, when they will close streets to cars and open them up as public space.

"We need to build exercise back into people’s daily activities. When
people are used to doing everything by car it’s hard to get them to
imaging moving in a different way," said San Mateo County Health Department Chief Jean Fraser. Fraser said events like this are important for connecting physical
activity and the built environment, which is relatively far from the
mainstream thinking about health.

"One of the interesting things we find is that people tend
to focus more on food and less on exercise," said Fraser. "If push came
to shove in really helping people’s health, if you could only choose
one, the science is pretty compelling that exercise is more important."

Added Fraser, "When you make exercise something that happens as
a consequence of doing
some other daily activity, then you can meet those daily requirements
just by moving yourself through the day."

Cities in San Mateo County didn’t settle on a single route for this year, so the events will be focused locally, with each participating city coordinating events and programs on the routes they have selected. The events will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and will vary by city. Organizers said they are hopeful that if this year’s events are successful and draw an audience, they will be able to expand the ciclovia next year to be on a unified route through many more San Mateo cities. The most obvious street for that would be El Camino Real.

"We would like to open El Camino Real to ciclovia," said San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom, whose office has been instrumental in organizing Streets Alive events. Groom said she hopes the foundation laid by this years events will lead to "a much bigger, signature event" for April 2011.

Groom said she was in New York City by coincidence the day that they closed Broadway to cars and opened it up as a pedestrian mall in the heart of Times Square. Over the course of three days, she saw how quickly people’s perceptions of the space changed.

"At first, people didn’t know what the heck it was. On the second day,  people were having coffee and using their laptops, next day street vendors were selling sandwiches," she said, arguing that if it can work in the heart of Manhattan, it can work in San Mateo County.

"There’s no reason, I think, why we can’t do this on a more regular basis."

Sunday Streets in San Francisco

In San Francisco, the second Sunday Streets of the year will wind through Golden Gate Park and along the Great Highway, where several miles of roadway will be opened to cyclists, skaters, and pedestrians from 10 am to 3 pm. See the route map below and be sure to get out on your favorite mode of non-motorized transportation this Sunday.


Watch the World Health Organization 1,000 Cities 1,000 Lives promotional video here:


Is Sunday Streets the Next Critical Mass?

Flickr photo: Michael Bolger Though it occurred for just four hours on two miles of streets in the Mission, this week’s Sunday Streets event has transformed the livable streets movement in some of the same ways that Critical Mass transformed San Francisco’s bicycle rights movement in the early 1990s. “Even better than Critical Mass,” was […]

Excitement Builds for First Sunday Streets of 2010

Photo: busbozo With just over a week to go before the first Sunday Streets ciclovia of 2010, organizers are working overtime to get all the details squared away for the March 14th street closure, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and bladers to the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf. The […]

Mayor Lee to Bring Sunday Streets to Chinatown and North Beach This Year

Chinatown and North Beach, the “densest neighborhoods west of the Mississippi,” are set to be graced by Sunday Streets for the first time this year, Mayor Ed Lee announced today. City leaders and advocates said they’re eager for the opportunity to let residents experience Grant Avenue and California Street free of car traffic. “Sunday Streets will be different […]

First Walking Sunday Streets a Hit in Chinatown and North Beach

San Francisco’s Grant Avenue, the city’s oldest street, was opened to pedestrians only yesterday in a milestone Sunday Streets event that drew thousands of people to the historic neighborhoods of Chinatown and North Beach on a sunny, 74-degree day. The city’s first walking Sunday Streets on a thoroughfare that seems like one of the most […]