San Francisco’s ‘Ciclovia’ – ‘Sunday Streets’

On two glorious days on August 31 and September 14, 2008, the streets of San Francisco belonged to pedestrians, bikers, joggers, skaters, dancers (lots of dancers), picnickers, roller soccer, hula hoopers… you get the idea (and actually get to see all of it in the Streetfilms video above). That’s because San Francisco became the last of the country’s most progressive cities (Portland, NY, Seattle) to host their own Ciclovia, a ‘party on the highway’ originating in Bogota, Columbia where several miles of car-oriented roads are closed to… cars, on the weekends.

Sunday Streets, open from 9 am to 1 pm, covers 4.5 miles from the Bayview neighborhood, along the Embarcadero waterfront and ending in Chinatown, and is sponsored by the mayor’s office to promote health. As one Sunday Streeter put it, “When there’s no cars and just people, people are friendlier, people are less stressed out.” Really though, it’s become a wildly popular event simply because the crowd thoroughly enjoys it. As Mayor Gavin Newsome, one of the most forward-thinking mayors in the U.S., puts it, “Most importantly, it’s the spirit of folks who come up to you and say, ‘Why aren’t we doing this every weekend?’ It’s just been another vibrant success.”

…and a closing quote, “I think you’re seeing the city wake up to what’s been obvious to some of us, that there are so many other wonderful uses of a street. Streets aren’t limited to just a few people and cars. Streets are for people, and it’s really wonderful to get the people out in the streets playing.”

Check out the Streetfilms ‘Ciclovia’ videos for:
Portland’s Sunday Parkways
Manhattan, NY’s Summer Streets
Brooklyn, NY’s Williamsburg Walks.
Bogota, Columbia’s Ciclovia

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