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Car-Free Streets

Dance Performance Celebrates Temporarily Car-Free Lombard Street

5:36 PM PDT on July 21, 2014

Last week, cars once again took over SF's crooked block of Lombard Street, following the last of a series of weekend trials that banned most cars from the street and opened it up to people instead. The Bay Area Flash Mob celebrated the last car-free day with a choreographed dance all the way down the winding road, set to the tune of Pharrell's song "Happy."

Deland Chan, one of the initiators of the dance, said the group wanted to "create a moment of joy" on the street that would become impossible once it's re-opened to cars.

"Some of the tourists actually jumped in and started dancing. The street is a lot steeper than we thought it would be, so it was an intense workout," said Chan, who lives four blocks away and is an urban studies lecturer at Stanford University. She recently held a workshop in Chinatown on "public spaces and how different communities play," and previously worked as a senior planner at the Chinatown Community Development Center.

The dance mob makes its way down Lombard. Image via Youtube
The dance mob makes its way down Lombard. Image via Youtube

Now that the Lombard trial has concluded, the SFMTA will consider permanent changes that consider data collected on how Lombard and surrounding streets worked during the car restrictions. During the trial, all cars were banned except taxis and drivers who were accessing homes on the block.

By all accounts, there were no surprises during the trial, which reduced blocks-long car queues and made the street safer and more welcoming for people on foot. And as the flash mob showed, it provided more opportunities to just have fun in the street.

The point was apparently still missed by KPIX reporter Brian Webb, who during the trial's first week called the sight of tourists enjoying themselves "chaos." Webb filed a less dramatic follow-up report after the final weekend, in which he asked people on the street if they thought the pilot project was successful in keeping tourists away (not quite the point).

"Tourists from far and wide flooded Lombard Street without a single care over oncoming cars -- so care-free, some decided to dance," Webb said, before asking a neighbor, "Keeping the cars away did not help?"

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