Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office announced today that Sunday Streets, San Francisco’s homegrown ciclovía, will become a permanent city program — officially led by the SFMTA, and with the excellent Livable City serving as a fiscal sponsor. One final event will be hosted this weekend on September 6, at Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway; but then we’ll be able to enjoy these events for ever year thereafter. The press release suggested that in the future, more neighborhoods will be drawn into the mix, and events will last longer. This is a good thing: the close of every Sunday Streets event that I have attended has been accompanied by a general grumbling that the street “closure” (or opening, depending on how you look at it) should have continued for a couple hours longer. From the press release:
“This Sunday’s event is the finale for 2009, but Sunday Streets will be back in 2010 with more routes, longer hours, more San Francisco neighborhoods and more programs at each event,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “We have created a new tradition in San Francisco that will improve our quality of life for years to come.”
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), co-sponsor of Sunday Streets 2009, will be the lead agency for the Sunday Streets program starting in 2010. The San Francisco Mayor’s Office will continue to provide leadership support for the program, and Livable City, a sustainable transportation advocacy non-profit, will continue as the fiscal sponsor.
“The SFMTA has been proud to join with our City partners and Livable City to promote healthy family outdoor activities this summer. Working together on programs like Sunday Streets, we can increase the use of sustainable transportation to protect the environment and to ensure the City’s sustainability for future generations,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA Executive Director/CEO.
Sunday Streets creates safe, fun car-free space on City streets that give San Francisco residents and visitors an opportunity to get out and get active. Temporarily closing some streets to automobile traffic opens them to people for walking, cycling, skating and playing. Sunday Streets events create a stronger sense of community in every neighborhood they touch and throughout the City.
By all accounts, Sunday Streets has been a resounding success. Particularly exemplary were the Mission District events, where the neighborhood setting was cozier than the waterfront — and the streets were sufficiently narrow that pedestrians were also able to walk safely in the open street, instead of being confined to the sidewalk, as often occurred when the events were held on the Embarcadero. Merchants, initially disbelieving, have come around to realize the business and visibility benefits that come with plentiful foot traffic. Perhaps most importantly, Sunday Streets have helped to reawaken a general excitement about reclaiming streets, and making them safer for all users of the street. How lucky for us that we’ll now be able to enjoy this new tradition every year from now on.