Bicyclists, walkers, skaters, families, bands, food, fun physical activity, welcoming businesses, community organizations, craziness! And no cars. What more could you ask for?
It was my pleasure to find myself in San Francisco on Sunday, July 1, for Sunday Streets. I was in the bay area to visit friends, and just happened to notice on Streetsblog that there was a Sunday Streets event. I’ve heard about these but never participated, and really looked forward to it. At 11AM, not too much was happening, a few people wandering and many people setting up, but by 1PM, that place was hopping, with so many people that it was sometimes difficult to keep moving. But that isn’t a bad thing. The 11 blocks of Valencia Street and 12 blocks of 24th Street in the Mission District of San Francisco (south of downtown) were blocked off to car traffic, though some cross-streets were open to cars.
I watched and talked to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Freedom from Training Wheels people for a while, and enjoyed watching very young kids learning to ride a balance bike, and a few slightly older kids graduating to pedals. I strongly support the balance bike approach to learning how to bike, and believe that training wheels are an unnecessary handicap to the whole process.
So, some favorite things: the roller dancers, who I think were part of a roller derby team; the bubble bike couple, dressed in San Francisco strange and trailing a stream of bubbles along the entire route; whole families riding their bikes together; the swing dance demonstration; food vendors out on the streets, most of them from the businesses right there on the street, with an expanded front porch for customers; Tara’s organic ice cream; bands playing completely different kinds of music every few blocks; and people proud of their classic and art bikes.
The Sunday Streets program continues in San Francisco through October, with a variety of locations. It will be back in the Mission, it’s most popular locale, on August 5, and I’ll be there for it (another weekend in the bay area, this one with a play, two dances, and more friends).
I have heard that there was, or will be, a Sunday Streets type event in Sacramento, but I don’t remember the details, and can’t find anything about it on the Internet. Hmm.
Sunday Streets SF photos (Flickr).
I was also in San Francisco on Saturday for more bicycling fun. I went to the farmers market at the Ferry Building, which is now both a permanent “farmers market” of local businesses and a traditional farmers market with farmers, and it was so crowded and so fun. I then rode along the waterfront, through the marina area and to Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. There is a separated path along most of the distance, sometimes quite separated and other times shoehorned in after the fact, sometimes on streets and sometimes through the parks. There were so many bicycles there were bicycle traffic jams at times, and it was not even a sunny day, rather foggy and windy. I have mixed feelings about all the tourists out riding along the route – glad to see them there and enjoying the place from a bike instead of a car, but they tend to be pretty unskilled and inattentive to other bicyclists. You have to be alert to ride around them.
I also rode The Wiggle, which is a short route that leads from Market Street to the Golden Gate Park panhandle, going around rather than over the hills. It has just recently received additional marking with green-back sharrows and better signing.
San Francisco Bike Facilities photos (Flickr).