Sunday Streets – the once-controversial closure of streets to automobiles so they can be fully used by pedestrians, cyclists, and skaters, temporarily expanding the amount of open space in San Francisco – has become a popular monthly event and it rotates among neighborhoods around the city. And as the organizers prepare for this Sunday's event in the Mission, where its biggest and best incarnations are held, city officials today announced an expansion of the program: the Mission will now host Sunday Streets on the first weekend of each month through the summer.
“Sunday Streets really comes to life and realizes its full potential when it's in the Mission,” Ed Reiskin, executive director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said this morning at a press conference on the steps of City Hall.
The business community initially resisted the idea when it was proposed five years ago by Mayor Gavin Newsom and its chief sponsor, the nonprofit Livable City, concerned that customers would have a hard time getting to stores. But just the opposite has proven true as the popular events fill the streets with thousands of people.
“When Sunday Streets started, I know there was a little apprehension, we even felt it in the Mission,” Sup. David Campos, who represents the Mission. “But the neighborhood has come together to embrace the project.”
Mayor Ed Lee called the expansion of Sunday Streets “a great pilot program for San Francisco” and said that it represents “our openness to learning to use our streets differently.”
San Francisco was the third city in the country to hold these street closures – known as cicolvias in Bogota, Columbia, which pioneered the concept – following Portland, Ore. (the first, and one that we covered) and New York City. This Sunday's event runs from 11 am to 4 pm, mostly along Valencia and 24th streets.