Sacramento’s first open street event* took place on Sunday, Sunday Street on Broadway.  

Broadway was closed to cars and open to people from 8 to noon. The route was on Broadway from Riverside east to 26th St, jogged down to 2nd Ave, and then ended again at Broadway. People were wondering how this would work in Sacramento, the first time, and in a place that is pretty car-centric. Well it worked great! A lot of people came out. I’m sure the city will have an estimate, but the initial answer is, a lot.

If success is measured by smiles, and it should be, this event was a great success. People of all ages were there, people from the neighborhood and the region. A lot of people were bicycling, but a lot were walking, and using other wheeled devices. Slide tricycles, which I didn’t even realize were a thing in Sacramento, were common.

Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA) created a separated bikeway (protected bike lane) for people to experience, which attracted a lot of attention and generated a lot of discussion about the state of bicycling in Sacramento. Adjacent, WALKSacramento asked people to add their favorite places to walk to a chalk board, all of which were NOT car-dominated places. Some people prioritized how it felt to walk, others their destination. Ice cream was a popular theme. 

Outside food vendors were prohibited in order to highlight local restaurants. For those open, business was booming. Some places missed out, though, by not being open. I’d imagine as word gets around how well it works, food retail along future events will be open and prosperous. Many business owners just assume that most of their customers come by car, but places that encourage and activate walking and bicycling all have increased business. Vintage Bicycle Supply was open and crowded with people not even aware it existed, and fans of the CycleFest cruiser bikes. New Helvetia Brewing was quenching people’s thirst and hosting running clubs. There were a lot of sports and fitness vendors, showing people what they had to offer and just providing fun. The two hula hoop groups were particularly popular with kids, and there were chalk drawings everywhere. Sidewalk chalk may be the single most important tool available to the public for activating public spaces. 

SACOG and Social Bicycles were showing off the new bike share which opened just Thursday. I heard comments from a lot of people that they found the bikes easier to ride than they thought, and were looking forward to trying it out. [previous post riding the bike share.

The section along 26th St and 2nd Ave was much quieter, with a cluster of local businesses and organizations near the end at Broadway. It was also far cooler than Broadway, with all the street trees moderating the temperature about 10 degrees below Broadway. This was not only much appreciated by people, but points out that for the new Broadway to work for pedestrians and bicyclists, it is going to need to not only not lose many of the existing trees, but to really create a welcoming tree lined street. When I participated in the public meetings the last two years, I didn’t realize how important street trees would be. Since Broadway will be a vibrant commercial corridor, it may be that the big shade trees should be in the median, with less dense trees between the street and retail, so that the view of customers is not obstructed. Interesting design issues. 

Hope you had a fun time too! I’m looking forward to the next one. 

Photos on Flickr

* Though the county claims its Great Scott road closure is an open street event, it really does not meet the widely accepted definition of an open street.

About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

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