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Huchiun Park Opens in Emeryville

The little city that can (have bike lanes, have bike/ped bridges, have safe streets) just got a brand new park

Emeryville’s still crushing it, with new space for a family friendly community near shopping and bike paths. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Emeryville Mayor John Bauters emceed a combination Halloween festival and ribbon cutting Saturday for Huchiun Park, at 4311 Hubbard Street. It's the city's newest addition to its 500-unit Emery Apartments complex across the train tracks from the Bay Street mall.

"This is what you can get when you focus on people and community and not parking," Bauters told Streetsblog.

Mayor John Bauters. Note his cat-bike t-shirt.

The new housing--really, an entire community nestled against the railroad yard connected by a new bike-and-ped bridge to the shopping center--is accessed via bike paths and narrow streets. And the traffic calming is real (not paint and plastic) and traffic is actually calm.

The "main," automobile-accessible street that goes past the park is slowed by a huge sidewalk-level crosswalk (see photo below) making it clear to motorists that pedestrians have the right-of-way.

A huge raised crosswalk makes it clear that this is pedestrian space entering the park. And steel bollards keep cars where they're supposed to be.

There are also completely separated bike and pedestrian paths making it easy and safe to get to the park without a car. There's even one bike route that goes through one of the buildings.

"There are very low traffic levels," said Emeryville Vice Mayor Courtney Welch, who added that it's important for children to grow up in communities where they can have some independence. She said she feels safe letting her kids navigate this community on their own thanks to the low traffic volumes. "It builds confidence."

Vice Mayor Courtney Welch said she'd feel safe letting her kids navigate this community on their own thanks to the low traffic volumes.

She said that's especially important for Black children, who suffer a higher rate of injuries and deaths thanks to traffic violence. "We look for spaces where we can feel comfortable. This is a space where that can happen."

The park is in view from the windows of the apartments, so parents can keep an eye on their kids. And it was clear Saturday that kids are what it's all about, with potato sack races, pick-up soccer, and a pie-eating contest that was part of the dedication ceremony.

Pumpkin pie, anyone?

Emeryville is definitely showing how a former warehouse district can be transformed into a family-friendly community, where car ownership might be nice, but it's not necessary for everyday existence.

So how is Emeryville achieving what most Bay Area cities just talk about? Bauters told Streetsblog it's important to have a mayor and a staff that bike (and not just for photo ops). "It's about creating a culture. It's about the lived experience," he said. "You have to believe your city can be a better place."

For more on the history of the area, check out coverage in the East Bay Times.

More pictures of the park and the festival below:

Jepp Hein's "Your Way" mirrored sculpture was a hit with the kids
One of the bike and pedestrian (and jogging paths) that connects the apartments and the park to the bridge (the red arch in the distance) which connects over the tracks to the shopping center
No park would be complete without a great playground
Eye don't know how to caption this.
Mayor Bauters saying farewell to soon-to-be-devoured pies
Safe enough for the little pumpkins to be left on their own occasionally
Trains + IKEA = ? Anyway, the kids enjoyed watching the trains go by. So did some of the adults.

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