Sunday Streets returns

Steven T. Jones

The first of nine Sundays Streets events -- San Francisco’s version of the car-free ciclovias that have caught on in cities around the world over the last few years, temporarily transforming roadways into vital public spaces -- was held Sunday (3/14) along the Embarcadero, drawing an impressive turnout on a beautiful day.

Despite some initial resistance to the idea among Fisherman’s Wharf merchants when it started here two years ago, Sunday Streets now seems to be accepted and welcomed by most San Franciscans, even in the once-fearful business community.

Personally, the slightly sterile Embarcadero route was my least favorite route in years’ past, and I think the concept generally works better in areas with more street life, such as in the Mission, where Sunday Streets will be held June 20 and July 11. So I’m happy to see the number of events being expanded this year to include rides in Western Addition and the Tenderloin this fall.


When I shop at the farmer's market on Saturdays, I'm appalled that the Embarcadero is allowed to remain open to cars when the market is open. There are vendors very close to the street, and the exhaust from the cars certainly leaves residues on the produce. Not to mention the hassle of crossing the street against all of the traffic.

We need to move toward removing all private motor vehicles in cities and replacing them with public transit powered by local wind generators and solar collectors. Driving is one of the most environmentally destructive things average people do, and there's no excuse for having cars in cities, where one can easily get along by public transit, walking, and biking.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Mar. 13, 2010 @ 10:51 am

The Embarcadero is a major traffic thoroughfare and you can't just close it at will. One Sunday a year can work though, evidently.

I agree that it's not ideal to have the food market there and I'm not sure why they don't use the open space alongside or behind the Ferry Building instead.

There are many things that you cannot do without a car in the city. But if you are a single person who can walk, bike or bus to work, I can see how you might be able to get by without one.

Not for most of us though.

Posted by Tom Foolery on Mar. 13, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

Tom said, "There are many things that you cannot do without a car in the city." Well, there are many things you cannot do without cyanide or a nuclear bomb, but that doesn't mean you should have them. I grew up without a car, and guess what: we were a family, so having a family is no excuse for destroying the planet by driving (not that anything is). Cars didn't even exist in large numbers until about 60-70 years ago. And only about 8% of the people in the world drive cars. So this idea that a car is a necessity is a big lie. You can organize your life so that it's difficult or impossible to live without a car, but that's your choice. No one HAS to drive.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Mar. 13, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

Car = cyanide or a nuclear bomb.

This fool is the kind of person who costs the Democratic party elections. What a wacko. Next thing you know Jeff will be calling for the death penalty (or life in prison) for the crime of driving an internal combustion engine.

Posted by Lucretia the Trollop on Mar. 13, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

They put a outdoor market next to a road and the visionaries want to close the road? Also it seems the visionaries can't figure out crosswalks.

I also find it odd, visionaries can't decide which food to buy on their own, they put a outdoor market next to a road and the visionary thinks that they have to buy the food next the road.

Oddly I would guess that the people who own stalls prefer the stalls next to the road, and the confusing cross walk.

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 13, 2010 @ 8:38 pm


We need cars in the same sense that we need TV, PC's, Phones, Airplanes and everything else except for air, water, food and warmth.

But how much fun would it be if we all went back 100 years in time?

Yes, at great effort, I could maybe organize my life with no car. But why the hell would I? Where's the fun in that? You remember fun, right?

Posted by Tom Foolery on Mar. 14, 2010 @ 10:41 am

I think that Jeff is pointing out that cars are an American luxury, one that -- unlike TVs and phones and even airplanes -- has a particularly destructive impact on the environment. I have a car, Tom; I use it to get my kids to school in the morning (there really isn't a viable public transport alternative right now; in a couple years, when they're a little older, they'll both ride Muni). But too often, we just use our cars because it's second nature; we're used to driving around. I've actually found it's LESS convenient to use my car for much of my travel in the city. When I ride my bike to work, or to City Hall, or to downtown events/bars/restaurants I find that I get around much more quickly and easily. Traffic and parking aren't the same hassles. And it's a lot more fun. Frankly, I hate driving. I can't wait to reach the point when my kids are old enough that I don't need the damn car at all anymore.

We don't have to ban or abolish cars. If people who didn't need to drive -- who do it just because they haven't stopped to consider the alternatives -- didn't drive, there'd be a lot less traffic on the streets. That would make Muni faster -- and yes, make it easier for those with disabilities and those who have special needs to get around in their cars. It would also eliminate tons of greenhouse gases, oil imports etc.

Most people who live in Manhattan don't have cars; they don't even think about it. If we had just a little more of that attitude, it would go a long way.

Posted by tim on Mar. 15, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

Yes Tim, that's my point, except that it's absolutely false that anyone has to drive.

Driving is probably the most environmentally destructive thing the average American does. Driving causes destruction of natural habitats by drilling for oil (for example, ANWR) and by paving over the Earth for roads, oil spills -- which are now so ubiquitous that they happen daily and have polluted just about every major body of water on Earth -- toxic pollution from refineries, and air pollution, including global warming. So yes, unless you're a modern human who doesn't give a damn about the natural environment, cars DO equal cyanide or nuclear bombs, just in smaller scales.

And Lucretia, you are so far from being a deep ecologist and radical environmentalist it's not funny. Being a deep ecologist means advocating the preservation of natural areas for their own sakes and giving other species the same consideration you give humans. How in hell does supporting cars and driving, which destroy the natural areas you are supposed to be advocating for, square with those ideals?

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Mar. 15, 2010 @ 6:57 pm


You don't need cars or any other machines or modern technology to have fun. The most fun I've ever had was doing things like sailing, which humans have been doing for thousands of years and which does not require consuming oil or polluting the air and water. You can have fun just hanging out with friends, playing on the beach or in a park, seeing live music or a movie. If you have to destroy the Earth to have fun, there's something wrong with you. And more importantly, it's highly immoral that it's OK to do environmentally harmful things just to have fun. What about someone who thinks having fun is shooting up a neighborhood?

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Mar. 15, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

people are doing quality of progressives very interesting.

Oddly I have not owned a car in twenty years and do fine without it, but as a person in favor of individual liberty, unlike the busy body progressives, I don't begrudge people their cars or other liberties that I don't partake in.

Progressives are just another incarnation of the William Bennet like American nag, they always know how we should be living our lives.

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 16, 2010 @ 10:36 am

Glen's comment is a perfect example of what's wrong with the "individual liberty" crowd: they don't give a damn about others or the environment. Their philosophy is that people -- usually themselves -- should be allowed to do whatever they want, regardless of the harms it causes to other people or the environment. When anyone tries to regulate or stop that destructive behavior, they cry about curtailing their freedom, saying that we're trying to tell them how to live their lives. Well, guess what: if you don't exhibit maturity and responsibility, you NEED to be told how to live, just like a child. And anyone who would harm others or destroy the environment is not exhibiting maturity or responsibility.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Mar. 19, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

Cars are proven themselves to be a failure. They even gave birth to the modern gladiators fight... Testosterone driven world of cars.

Cars are a disgrace. They deserve a place in the museum of failed technology.

This is what is wrong with cars.

1. Their size. We build a car to move four people that is driven most of the time by one.
2. Their number: We build cars to move people based on convinience not on efficiency.
3. Their intention: They are desing and sold to us by the interst of car makers without regard for the planet.
4. They have made out of us the village of the Emperor without clyhes. But the ones without clothes is us... Car users.

STOP the production of cars. Is all based on status, toys, testosterone, differentiation, arrogance. In essence is a me, me, me, me ,me ,me thing. There is no regard for the other... It encapsulates the egoistic trends and habit of society.

Need to say more... I can ...

Posted by Guest on Jun. 23, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

You can probably get by in the 'Cities' without a car but anywhere else, in California and most western states cars became a necessity. The American dream was a business plan. The white picket fence, the lawn and garden with the Chevy/Ford and that sense of freedom was media hype at its height for the baby boomer generation, by engineering giants who developed massive highway systems (instead of a integrated transit system) especially out west to sell us gas and tax the hell out of us. Ever since Saudi Arabia became allied with certain engineering giants, years of profits would stream from foreign oil as it is much more privatized and more profitable (domestic oil from our own land would be more socialized, not such a bad thing.) Not to mention the government contracts to build our massive highway system.

Now it's not about freedeom, now it's about fun as Tom has been programmed by the new media pitch.

Before the inception of cars in the east and midwest metro areas were thriving. I grew up in the Bay Area, but lived in New York and Chicago for about a year and the transit and highway system are far more accessible and efficient out there. Those metro areas thrived before 'this business plan' and so weren't designed around it. I've also visited other countries where most people cannot afford cars and they're public transportation has sprouted out by need.

It's a different story out west, I'm sorry to discover. There is nothing wrong with dreaming but we must be responsible adults. Demand clean energy. With demand supply will follow.

You ever wonder why gas prices are the highest out here in the bay area? A higher demand maybe?

Posted by Rob on Aug. 22, 2010 @ 2:03 am