Land Park open (car free) roads?

With the exciting news that the closure of a part of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park will remain permanently closed to private vehicles. This closure was made to provide safe open space during the pandemic, and is only a small portion of the roads in the park. Most of the people who live in San Francisco support this closure to cars (opening to walkers and bicyclists), and most of the people who visit the park from elsewhere (which includes me) also support.

People have started talking about Land Park in Sacramento. I was certainly not the first. This has been an ongoing conversation among advocates for walking and bicycling for years, but it never turned into a movement. Maybe today is the day.

Below is my (modest) proposal for closing some of the roads in Land Park to private vehicles (pdf). There is a small existing closure, of the roadway in from the southeast corner of the park. It has gates that are permeable to bicyclists.

My proposal closes about 53% of the roads in the park, but leaves open roads that access important points such as Fairytale Town and the golf course (if that is important). It also leaves open an east-west route through the park, with ample parking along the roadside, for those who need vehicle access. People who drive are most likely to access the park from Riverside Drive, Land Park Drive, and Freeport Blvd; all those access points remain open.

Of course the use of the term ‘closed to cars’ is really an inversion. Roads that are closed to private vehicles are by nature open to walkers and bicyclists, and so are really ‘open’ to people.

So, what do you think? Constructive comments are always welcome.

big smiles at Sunday Street on Broadway

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.