Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday Streets in the North Panhandle: How Was It For You?

Seemed to be a good day at this doggie table

Sometimes bike decoration is essential

Drizzle didn't stop the music

UPDATE, 8pm, Oct. 12. A point of reference: Los Angeles held its version of Sunday Streets -- la cicLAvia -- this weekend. There was no organized programming along the full 7.5 mile route. 10,000 people joined in. Get the full story here at Streetsblog and scroll through the comments. People were amazed with the open streets. "Toni" reflected, "The cicLAvia allowed many of us Angelenos (to) rediscover our city."

On the morning of September 19th before the event got underway, I saw NOPA in a completely new way: completely open streets, 11 blocks cleared of vehicles for perhaps the first time ever. And then people came outdoors to play.


A warm drizzle kept the numbers down for the first Sunday Streets to come to the Western Addition three weeks ago, but thousands of NOPA residents and visitors took to the streets anyway. In the North Panhandle eleven blocks were opened to walking, skating, biking and dancing. From 10 am to 3pm, people roamed the neighborhood -- some perhaps for the first time taking a look at what the NOPA buzz is all about.

Before we race on to the next big events -- and the last Sunday Street of the year, scheduled for October 24th in the Civic Center and the Tenderloin -- take a moment and let other BIKE NOPA readers know what you're thinking. Here's a few questions and a bit of background to get things started:

Did you, your roommates, friends, or family enjoy the music, disaster prep demos, kids bike rodeo, roller skating, bike decorating, and being in the streets?
  • If this was your first Sunday Street, was it interesting enough to participate in again next year? (2011 routes have yet to be determined)
Do you live in the neighborhood ...or make a special trip here for Sunday Streets?

Did you travel the route across Golden Gate Avenue to the Fillmore and Japantown for activities there? If not, what kept you from doing so?

Would you prefer a different route through the neighborhood?
  • Selecting a route isn't easy, especially since Sunday Streets tries to avoid disrupting Muni lines. One possibility is to use Baker Street (instead of Central) between Fell and Grove, but that might restrict senior residents at Mercy Terrace too much. What about the Golden Gate hill between Broderick and Divisadero? Too steep to use or just a minor San Francisco hill?
What would you like more of next year -- or less?
  • Sunday Streets does not attempt to fill the streets with programs like a block party or street fair, but it does try to provide "activity stops" to encourage people to travel the full route.
How much inconvenience for you was the removal of parking on the eleven blocks?
  • Note: Sunday Streets and NOPNA secured 200 free alternative parking spaces for residents who had to move their vehicles. Every residence received a flier about the parking; about 100 requested a parking pass. Only two to three dozen actually used the free spaces.
Mostly, how was it for you? Leave a few comments here. Thanks!


  1. It was okay but not great. The route was odd and the hill on GG btwn Divis and Broderick really made it two separate events, one on Fillmore and one on Baker/Grove connected by not much. Parking wasn't an issue but we have a garage.

    I think there could be better routes if whoever plans these things intends to do this in the same neighborhoods next year.

  2. Thanks, Peter, other than the route, what would have made it great for you rather than just ok?

  3. I really enjoyed it and thought that the cluster of tents in the Panhandle - where there were sponsors, bike repair, dog adoption, etc - worked pretty well. Hoping for better weather and bigger crowds next time.

  4. I loved it and I loved the fact that it rolled past my house on Grove Street. Because of this we were able to rally a lot of people to come and check out the event. But also because of this, we were hosts and didn't wander too far out of the general Panhandle area. The only thing I could ask for would be better weather!! :)

  5. I thought it was great, but I agree that the hill to Golden Gate made it two separate routes. But the only hill-free route between the two would be Grove/Fulton->Divis->Golden Gate, which will cause problems for the 24. Putting the route on Grove across Divis would reduce the hill to a single block, which would probably work better but still probably not well enough to connect the route.

    A point in favor of using Divis would be that all the merchants along there could participate, like they do along Valencia. That kind of participation along Divis could really tie the two halves together.

    I live at Grove and Baker, but I don't own a car so I can't really comment on whether the parking removal was inconvenient.

  6. For an event that passed through Japantown and the resurgent FIllmore corridor, I didn't get a sense that either of those communities embraced the event. Very sparse participation... even figuring in the drizzly weather. Perhaps there needs to be more outreach to families, churches, schools, and community organizations. And it probably takes at least one successful Sunday Streets event for the merchants in a neighborhood to understand that it's a potentially profitable event for them and to get with the program. Seemed crazy not to include Divisadero. Is it so hard to re-route the bus for a couple of blocks, one day a year? And although it's fun to ride on a car dominated street where one usually wouldn't bike, Golden Gate Ave. was a bad route choice: daunting for casual bikers, a long and essentially empty link between the two areas of activity. I rolled down from Buena Vista Park and did the full route 3 times.

  7. The Nopa segment of the route was a bust. All residential streets. That's not interesting. Forget Fillmore, they can do their own Streets. Just focus on Nopa, and close off Divis.

    SS was exciting when it first started. Now it's a burnout. Why two SS each year in the Mission, BVHP and OB? They should only get one each to avoid burnout by the time Nopa comes around.

  8. Readers: Joey is referring to the Sunday Streets in the Mission and in the Bayview/Hunters Point and Ocean Beach. In the last two years Sunday Streets has held two celebrations in the same neighborhoods to extend the overall event through the summer and to reduce the considerable logistical challenges that would accompany new routes every time out. (And the Mission seems to love Sunday Streets!).

    But the points are well-taken: how many Sunday Streets per summer? which neighborhoods? residential as well as commercial? and, if a street like Valencia and 24th can be closed to Muni and other traffic, why not Divisadero?

  9. One of the key bene's of Sun Streets for me has been getting to see new neighborhoods & visit merchants & restaurants I've not had an opp to explore when I was in a car. The merchants on Valencia Street & Mission clearly have embraced Sun Streets, opening their doors and extending services & seating out on sidewalks & streets. I know we hav ArtWalk on Divis, but agree that had Divis been part of the route, our merchants would have risen to occasion and met new customers. Saw more than one young kid balk at the top of GG Hill despite heavy coaxing from dad and mom, and folks with strollers had a helluva time going up and down.

    Loved the garage sales, music and family cookie stands all along Baker & GG Ave. Farmer's Mkt area was too jammed to ride thru on my bike so skipped it. Once down on Fillmore, it was dead - no energy and few people. Ditto on the spur by the kids park at GG & Laguna (?). Japantown seemed lk its own event and not part of SS at all. Route was very spread out in addition to having to negotiate the big hill. I help set up at the kids park--many unhappy locals trying to get to churches. Didn't seem to see anything in it for them.