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.

where to have open streets in Sacramento?

a family on SF Sunday Streets - Embarcadero
a family on SF Sunday Streets – Embarcadero

Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA) posted a question on Facebook, “Where shall we hold one in Sacramento?” about the Sunday Streets event this past Sunday on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. This echoes a conversation Alexis and I had while we were attending. She liked the Embarcadero Sunday Streets because it was a long distance and showed how streets can be used for transportation in a different way than we usually use them. For Sacramento, that would argue for a long distance closure that connects together destinations.

Though I certainly enjoyed this Sunday Street, I really like the two that I’ve been to in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, which close stretches of Valencia St and 24th St. This route is in a neighborhood, there are people living along the streets and in the neighborhood, as well as those who come from other places to enjoy. There are a multitude of locally-owned businesses to appreciate and engage, with nary a chain in sight. The special events such as play areas, climbing walls, hula hoops, dance demonstrations and others feel more concentrated rather than scattered out along a long route. For Sacramento, this argues for a midtown location, which is the only area where there is a sufficient concentration of residents and locally owned businesses. The Mission event is about community, and more like a street fair.

Embarcadero is more about transportation, and Mission is more about community. Sacramento, of course, could do both.

For more information about the flavors and locations of open streets events, see Open Streets Project. Check out the website for background information including “models”, and then go to one! Of course San Francisco is the easiest for us here in the Sacramento region, but Berkeley will also be having one or more this year, and as you’ll see, they are becoming common on the west coast, throughout the United States, and the world.

The next San Francisco event is on April 14, and is in the Mission neighborhood which I’ve referred to above, on Valencia St and 24th St. Don’t miss it! And bring back your thoughts and commitment to making it happen in Sacramento.

Alexis and I volunteered at the event as intersection monitors. Once you’ve been to an event, you can consider volunteering, which provides a different perspective. Though I was initially assigned to an quiet intersection where there was nothing much to do, I got moved to a lively intersection, The Embarcadero and North Point, where the F streetcar line crosses The Embarcadero at an angle, and there was a lot to do, stopping the walking-biking-rolling crowd as the streetcar came through, keeping people out of the dedicated streetcar lane, and talking to people about how to safely cross tracks.

I wrote more about the Sunday Streets Mission events I attended last year.