Tags Posts tagged with "sunday streets"

sunday streets

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by Elisa Chavez

The last time I can remember visiting New York, I was sixteen years old and staying in the southernmost tip of Manhattan. The entire city seemed like a blur of fast walkers, overpriced boutiques, and homicidal taxis, and I decided then and there that I could never, ever, ever live someplace that was quite so overwhelming.

Last week, I got on a plane and flew out to NYC for a week’s vacation, where I found that things had changed. Sure, people still walk like they’re out to burn rubber, the price of a sweater will make you cry, and traffic laws appear to function more as abstract guidelines than actual rules, but the city will surprise you. Sometimes tucked away down side streets, sometimes in plain view, and sometimes if you just happen to be in at right place at the right time, you’ll see a reminder that New York City is full of people who are working to make their neighborhoods vibrant and welcoming for themselves and their families.

The really interesting part is that a number of these public-space and support-our-locals initiatives bear a striking resemblance to what’s going on in our very own San Francisco.

1. Summer Streets

Bikers and skateboarders cruise down Lafayette Street in NYC.

Kind of like: SF’s Sunday Streets

I first came across New York’s Summer Streets program in the form of almost being flattened by a convoy of bikers. A little girl teetered happily on her tricycle while I flailed, so it seemed that navigating the whizzing throng of wheeled death was a skill that locals of all ages had mastered. It turns out that bikes are only a small part of NYC’s Summer Streets initiative; each summer, for three consecutive Saturdays, the city closes down a major Manhattan thoroughfare to cars, and promotes biking, walking, dancing, yoga, and occasional rock wall climbing.

I didn’t feel the need to boast that SF’s Sunday Streets program extends from March to late October this year  and even if I had, I don’t think anybody would’ve hopped off their bikes to listen.

2. Madison Square Park

Kind of like: Patricia’s Green, Hayes Valley

I ventured to Madison Square Park for what my Jersey-born friend assured me was the main attraction, the Shake Shack. Calling the one-by-three-blocks a park rather than a lawn or five trees, would have seemed bizarre to me before I moved to San Francisco, but due to my urban acclimation I found it downright expansive. The Shake Shack provides what is arguably the park’s central hub (we waited in a thirty-minute line for our milkshake and custard), but Madison Square Park also has free wifi, a dog run, a playground, a lively music program, and installations of public art.

 

 

 

 

Although we had our Shake Shack adventure after dark, the congenial vibe, attention-craving dogs, and outdoor art reminded me a lot of noontime at Patricia’s Green– though the Shack’s peanut butter fudge custard, while delicious, can’t quite match up to Smitten’s made-while-you-wait daily ice cream flavors. The real advantage to NYC’s scene is the heat: August in New York provides the type of weather that makes you feel as if eating ice cream is not only justified, but required.

 

3. The Market NYC

Kind of like: San Francisco Arts Market

The Market NYC at 268 Mulberry Street.

Ditching our guide on a New York pizza tour, we staggered aimlessly through the neighborhood called NoLita (North of Little Italy) until we came across a bright sign reading The Market NYC. A gym by weekday, from Friday to Sunday the space becomes a warehouse full of local designs, featuring screen-printed tees, handmade jewelry and apparel, leather goods, and more. The vendors were all unfailingly gregarious, chatting with me pleasantly even when all I wanted to do was gawk at their creations and add to my growing pile of business cards.

The Market is protective of its local vendors. When I asked if I could take pictures for this blog, I was told that only official photography was permitted. (Indoors, that is; my outside shot of their sign was kosher.) We’ve had Urban Outfitters copy somebody’s bag, they explained. I’m glad that the Market NYC is doing their thing; it was a real privilege to witness some of the craftsmanship and imagination of New York’s local designers. I’m even glad that they’re a little suspicious of outsiders like me: I think it shows a commitment to creating a safer arts community.

 

Now I’m back in San Francisco– back to my own streets, my own pizza, and reliable recycling bins on every corner. But in mulling over my trip to the East Coast, I find that I’m warmed by what I experienced there. In New York, as in SF, people are claiming urban public spaces as their own. The steps they take are familiar– if it were a dance, we’d all know how to do it and sometimes I felt a kneejerk, hipster reaction of but my city did it first/better/first and better. However, I realize that when it comes to building stronger communities, originality is overrated. What really matters is that everyone feels they have a place at the table.

Or in the bike lane.

 

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San Francisco, 

Residents enjoy the clear streets in San Francisco’s Mission District Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the return of Sunday Streets to the streets of San Francisco with a full schedule of car-free events, starting Sunday, March 20 th , along the Embarcadero and a new Chinatown-North Beach route this summer.  The inaugural event held along the Embarcadero for the fourth year in a row marks the beginning of the eight-month Sunday Streets 2011 season.
“I am delighted to announce the return of one of the City’s most exciting initiatives, Sunday Streets,” said Mayor Lee. “And this year, I’m pleased to announce a new route in the Chinatown and North Beach neighborhoods. Now, more than ever, it is community building programs, such as Sunday Streets, that are critical to our City’s well-being.”
Founded by former Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2008, Sunday Streets has grown from two events to nine and creates miles of car-free space on City roads. San Francisco was the third city in the United States to premier this free, community-oriented initiative. Since then it has become the nation’s largest such event, and one of the City’s most exciting initiatives promoting benefits such as biking, walking, recreation, and community-building.
“We at the SFMTA are delighted and honored to serve as the City’s lead agency for Sunday Streets,” said SFMTA Executive Director/CEO Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr. “This program plays an important role in promoting sustainable transportation, revitalizing neighborhoods and connecting diverse communities across San Francisco.”
The popular program attracts 15,000-20,000 participants at every event and enjoys widespread support from residents, businesses and visitors.
“Sunday Streets for a fourth year in a row has offered a fun car-free alternative that encourages healthy physical activities and educates people about sustainable living,” said President of the Board of Supervisors David Chiu. “I am thrilled that Sunday Streets will be adding a new route in District 3 this summer that connects Chinatown and North Beach.”
Sunday Streets 2011 brings exciting new developments, including:

    · New hours – starting and ending an hour later each day – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm;
    · Revised program guidelines that create more opportunities for locally produced activities, performances and programs along each route; and
    · A new route in Chinatown-North Beach – date to be announced soon.

Official Sunday Streets activities include free bike rentals (donated by Bike & Roll, Blazing Saddles and Bay City Bike Rentals & Tours), bike repairs and SF Bicycle Coalition-led bike education classes, the Funky Town Roller Disco presented by David Miles and California Outdoor Rollersports Association, kids’ activities led by the YMCA and a pet information and services area coordinated by Happy Hounds Massage, as well as other featured programs throughout the season.
Program highlights of the March 20 th 3.3-mile route along the Embarcadero include:
Program highlights of the March 20 th 3.3-mile route along the Embarcadero include:

    · Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District’s 3rd Annual Family Fitness Fair (Embarcadero at Jefferson and Powell);
    · Rock the Bike’s pedal-powered stage with special musical guests (East Park, south of PIER 39);
    · Department of Public Works (DPW) and SF Arts Commission’s “Free Wall” street art (Rincon Park, Embarcadero near Folsom); and
    · Activities for kids of all ages at South Beach Park (north of AT&T Park) and the new Mission Bay Park on Terry Francois, near Pier 52.

Sunday Streets partners include the Mayor’s Office, SFMTA, Board of Supervisors, DPW, Recreation & Park Dept, and the Police. Fiscal Sponsor Livable City is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the program. The SF Bicycle Coalition runs Sunday Streets’ volunteer program and the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross provides medical support. Clear Channel and the SF Examiner are media sponsors.
Support for Sunday Streets is augmented by generous contributions from private sector partners, with Bank of America as the Lead Sponsor for Sunday Streets in 2011.

“Bank of America is excited to help make Sunday Streets even bigger and better for the community.” said Martin Richards, San Francisco Market President at Bank of America. “As one of the oldest and largest companies in San Francisco, it makes perfect sense for Bank of America to work with the City and nonprofit organizer Livable City to elevate the program in a way that encourages healthy living and a greater sense of community.”

Major sponsorship for Sunday Streets also includes AT&T, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Shape Up SF (a program of the Dept of Public Health and Dept of Children Youth and Families), California Pacific Medical Center, PG &E, Lennar, Clif Kid, City CarShare, The Exploratorium, REI, San Francisco Federal Credit Union, the California Academy of Sciences, Darling, International and CH2MHILL.

Sunday Streets 2011 Season Schedule:
Support for Sunday Streets is augmented by generous contributions from private sector partners, with Bank of America as the Lead Sponsor for Sunday Streets in 2011.
“Bank of America is excited to help make Sunday Streets even bigger and better for the community.” said Martin Richards, San Francisco Market President at Bank of America. “As one of the oldest and largest companies in San Francisco, it makes perfect sense for Bank of America to work with the City and nonprofit organizer Livable City to elevate the program in a way that encourages healthy living and a greater sense of community.”

Major sponsorship for Sunday Streets also includes AT&T, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Shape Up SF (a program of the Dept of Public Health and Dept of Children Youth and Families), California Pacific Medical Center, PG &E, Lennar, Clif Kid, City CarShare, The Exploratorium, REI, San Francisco Federal Credit Union, the California Academy of Sciences, Darling, International and CH2MHILL.

Sunday Streets 2011 Season Schedule:
“Bank of America is excited to help make Sunday Streets even bigger and better for the community.” said Martin Richards, San Francisco Market President at Bank of America. “As one of the oldest and largest companies in San Francisco, it makes perfect sense for Bank of America to work with the City and nonprofit organizer Livable City to elevate the program in a way that encourages healthy living and a greater sense of community.”
Major sponsorship for Sunday Streets also includes AT&T, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Shape Up SF (a program of the Dept of Public Health and Dept of Children Youth and Families), California Pacific Medical Center, PG &E, Lennar, Clif Kid, City CarShare, The Exploratorium, REI, San Francisco Federal Credit Union, the California Academy of Sciences, Darling, International and CH2MHILL.

Sunday Streets 2011 Season Schedule:
Major sponsorship for Sunday Streets also includes AT&T, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Shape Up SF (a program of the Dept of Public Health and Dept of Children Youth and Families), California Pacific Medical Center, PG &E, Lennar, Clif Kid, City CarShare, The Exploratorium, REI, San Francisco Federal Credit Union, the California Academy of Sciences, Darling, International and CH2MHILL.
Sunday Streets 2011 Season Schedule:
Sunday Streets 2011 Season Schedule:

    · March 20: Embarcadero from Fisherman’s Wharf to Mission Bay
    · April 10: Great Highway and Golden Gate Park
    · May 8: Mission, including the popular route along 24th and Valencia Streets
    · June 12: Bayview, on 3rd Street from Mission Bay, Dogpatch to Bayview Opera House
    · July 10: Great Highway and Golden Gate Park #2
    · August 14: Civic Center and the Tenderloin
    · September 11: Western Addition, North Panhandle, Alamo Square and Fillmore
    · Summer: Chinatown and North Beach
    · October 23: Mission #2

Sunday Streets Information: SundayStreetsSF.com . Volunteer Information: SundayStreetsSF.com/volunteer .  MUNI routes and vehicle access, call 311 or go to sfgov.org/311 .

 

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Sunday Streets: A New Mission from NENtv on Vimeo.
What happens to a neighborhood when streets are transformed from car corridors into pedestrian spaces?

San Francisco’s “Sunday Streets” program is the city’s biggest experiment to transfer more of the public realm to people – pedestrians, bicyclists, and skaters. At each event, several miles of roads are closed to traffic and opened for walking, riding, and activities such as dance and yoga. Organizers hope that the program will help build community, improve health, and promote sustainable transportation.

Sunday Streets began in 2008 with three events and continued in 2009 with six events, including the program’s first presence in the Mission district. NENtv joined that event to check out its effects on the neighborhood. What did we find? Watch on…

And Sunday Streets continues in 2010, now with nine events. Check out when the next one is and, if you get down there, tell us what you think.

[Update 1: Visit the NENtv blog here to find out more about NENtv's visit to Sunday Streets in the Mission 2009.]

[Update 2: Watch our second Sunday Streets-related video "Is Sunday Streets Good or Bad for Local Businesses?" to delve deeper into the economic side of the event.]

Adam Greenfield

Adam Greenfield, NEN Media Director

[Our visit to Sunday Streets in the Mission is now a NENtv video episode! Watch it here. Our second NENtv Sunday Streets video "Is Sunday Streets Good or Bad for Local Businesses?" is also now online.]

Back in 1974, when the US and other so-called developed countries were going full steam on the automobile-enabling binge of the twentieth century, Bogota, the capital of  Colombia, did something amazing. Nonprofit organization Procicla convinced the city to close several main arteries to traffic and open up the space to pedestrians and bicyclists. The Ciclov’­a was born. The program grew over the decades to encompass over 70 miles of streets for 7 hours every Sunday, complete with exercise, yoga, and music sprinkled through the city. After more than 30 years, Bogota’s Ciclov’­a is still leads the world.

In 2008, San Francisco dipped its first toe in the CiclovÃa pond with “Sunday Streets”, a very limited version of Bogota’s program. Despite the long-running success of Ciclovía, many groups, including merchants, were wary of street closures and thus Sunday Streets was reserved to two occasions running 9am-1pm on the main route from Chinatown to Bayview-Hunters Point. The event was a huge success. Thousands of thrilled people turned out – and merchants actually did better business.

 

This year, Sunday Streets 2009 was expanded to six events running across three routes – the waterfront-Bayview, the Mission district, and Golden Gate Park-Great Highway. I’d have to invite you over for banana bread if I told you why I missed the first route but I caught the Mission and Golden Gate Park-Great Highway routes. I’ve seen few things that rival these events.

The Mission route, which I’ll share with you in this blog post, started on 18th & Dolores Street but spent most of its length on Valencia and 24th Streets. Valencia Street is pretty wide and there were stretches where not much was happening. Of course, all of a sudden I’d run into a random streetside DJ or an MJ Thriller dance-off and the atmosphere would be back on.

But to me, the best part of Sunday Streets wasn’t “stuff happening”, it was the human element. Tiny toddlers inching along on rainbow-colored trikes, show-off cowboys on 6 feet-high custom bikes, happy folks on 6-person mega-cycles, crazy skaters on sparkly wheels, dog-walkers ambling along like there wasn’t a crazy party going on… a bit of everything all over the place. Chaos and I liked it.

 

The real home run was on 24th Street, a better-suited venue for people-watching with its narrower width, greater shade, and more storefronts and cafes. I thought I knew this street but I don’t have enough fingers to count all the new shops, cafes, and classic Mission murals I must have sped past a million times.

Crowd density went up notches on 24th. I could have sat there for hours, feasting my eyes on all kinds of people. If life in the car lane can make you cynical, this brings you back, thinking “Forget what I said the other day; I really do love people”. And if you feel your daily life can be rather racially/culturally monochromatic, Sunday Streets in the Mission could perk you up.

On a final note, although community-building is my main bag, I’ve got to mention the Mission merchants. My friend, Livable City’s Susan King, one of the main organizers of Sunday Streets, tells me of reports from numerous merchants that business was better than ever during the Sunday Streets events. If this was true, and I’ve no reason to doubt it was, and the merchants help push for more people-centric uses of the public realm, I can see a vibrant revolution just over the hill.

More soon on the next instalment of Sunday Streets…

[Update 2: Watch our second Sunday Streets-related video "Is Sunday Streets Good or Bad for Local Businesses?" to delve deeper into the economic side of the event.]

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