Last Sunday Streets of the Year, Excelsior

Event Also Marks Wrap Up of Second Annual 'Transit Week'

The last Sunday Streets of the Year, on Mission Street in the Excelsior. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick
The last Sunday Streets of the Year, on Mission Street in the Excelsior. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick

Thousands of people, including lots of kids, came out to the Excelsior neighborhood yesterday morning and afternoon to enjoy a bright and sunny Sunday Streets on Mission Street. This one ran from Avalon/Theresa to Geneva Streets, and marks the final Sunday Streets event of 2017.

A map of yesterday's Sunday Streets
A map of yesterday’s Sunday Streets

As the city’s best-known open-streets event, it was also an opportunity for checking in on a variety of issues important to advocates for safe, livable streets.

For example, Mark Miretsky, launch director of Jump Bikes, was there promoting that company’s electric-assist, dockless bike share system. “We want to expand to Portola, Visitacion Valley–areas that don’t yet have regular bike share,” he said, adding that these communities also have serious mobility issues. Back in July, Jump applied for a city permit, mandated by SFMTA, for non-official bike share systems (meaning not Ford GoBike). According to Miretsky, the city still hasn’t issued them a permit–so for now, they are stuck in a 100-bike, grant-funded, ‘preview period.’

Jump Bike's Mark Mirestsky
Jump Bike’s Mark Mirestsky

Joel Ramos, who sits on the SFMTA Board of Directors, was out recruiting future riders–and future transit drivers. “Look at these kids how they’re smiling,” he said, pointing to children sitting in and standing around the driver’s seat of a shiny new SFMTA bus that was sitting on Mission Street on display. He was also handing out Clipper cards, to get more people onto the program. “It’s now $.25 more to use cash, which encourages people to use Clipper.” He said getting people away from cash is speeding up the whole system. “Every rider wastes ten seconds using cash, every time they board–that may not seem like much, but multiply it over five days a week and thousands of riders.”

Joel Ramos recruiting a new generation of transit riders and drivers, plus handing out Clipper cards
Joel Ramos recruiting a new generation of transit riders and drivers, plus handing out Clipper cards

Speaking of Muni, the San Francisco Transit Riders (SFTR) were out wrapping up the last day of Transit Week. “It’s been great,” said Rachel Hyden, the group’s Executive Director. “We’ve talked to so many riders who love Muni.” She said that’s important because, while Muni certainly has its problems, it’s good to occasionally appreciate that it does get people where they’re going. At Sunday Street, SFTR was advocating to make Muni more family friendly, by assuring parents that it is okay to bring strollers on a bus.

The SF Transit riders Rachel Hyden and Matt Cleinman, wrapping up the second annual 'Transit Week' at Sunday Streets
The SF Transit riders Rachel Hyden and Matt Cleinman, wrapping up the second annual Transit Week, at Sunday Streets
Kids drew transit pictures and wrote their thoughts with crayons at the Transit Riders booth
Kids drew transit pictures and wrote their thoughts with crayons at the SF Transit Rider’s booth

Sunday Streets has always been a place for fun and music. Ted Kuster with ‘Bluegrass Music’ was out playing with a band at the parklets by the Persia Triangle–these permanent improvements were installed back in 2014. A block away, Brian Belknap, a one-man band, was playing tunes on his accordion and drum.

Ted Kuster and friends getting down with a little Blue Grass
Ted Kuster and friends getting down with a little Bluegrass
Brian Belknap jamming away during Sunday Streets
Brian Belknap jamming away during Sunday Streets

Sergeant Martin of the SFPD’s Ingleside station was extolling patrolling by bike rather than a car. “It’s the best of both worlds–I can respond quickly but maintain contact with the public,” the 24-year SFPD veteran explained. “Mission Street is bumper-to-bumper, more often than not I beat the patrol cars.” He said it also helps him catch drunk drivers, since he can see an open bottle through a car windshield. “They don’t run, because when they see me, they know I already have their license plate.”

The svelte, fifty-something cop also likes the idea of staying in shape on the job. “I get paid to exercise!”

SFPD Sergeant Martin gets paid to exercise (and catch bad guys)
SFPD Sergeant Martin gets paid to exercise (and catch bad guys)

Up and down Mission, kids were playing in the street, as all the chalk drawings illustrate.

Street as kid's doodling pad, instead of space just for cars
Street as kid’s doodling pad, instead of space just for cars

Sunday Streets is an opportunity for meeting neighbors and reclaiming sections of street for something other than motor traffic. It’s a chance for safe and livable streets advocates to dream about what our city can be like when streets are returned to the people.

Crowd

But a block away, at the intersection of Silver and Alemany, rests the ghost bike of Moises Chavez, a 51-year-old man who was killed last June at this notorious intersection. The intersection now has some painted bulb outs and plastic posts to slow down turning cars–at least somewhat. But the intersection still lacks any bike markings and the bike lane on Alemany remains just a dangerous door-zone stripe. It’s all a stark reminder of how far we have to go before our streets are again safe for all users, not just during special events, but all year round.

Moises Chavez's ghost bike rests a block away from yesterday's Sunday Streets
Moises Chavez’s ghost bike rests a block away from yesterday’s Sunday Streets. Stark reminder of how dangerous our streets remain.

The next Sunday Streets will be in March, 2018. Details will be posted when available on the Sunday Streets web page.

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