Bicycles, roller blades and jump ropes replaced cars and SUVs as San Franciscans took advantage of the sunshine and the numerous activities offered at the city’s first “Sunday Streets,” an event to promote healthy, active living. From 9 am to 1 pm streets along the waterfront from Chinatown to Bayview were closed off to traffic. Along the route, participants could stop at various “pods” to participate in activities—from hula hooping and jumping rope at South Beach Park, to dance, yoga and Tai Chi in Ferry Plaza. AT&T Park opened its gates for participants to run the bases. Bike and Roll, a bike rental and tour company, provided free one-hour bike rentals. At South Beach Park, Shannon Morris, a volunteer with the Impala racing team explained one of the goals of Sunday Streets is to get people excited about being outside and push for healthy living. “I think it’s a great idea, anything to get people out, meeting new people, and being active,” Morris stated.
Sunday Streets is modeled after an event started in Bogotá, Colombia over 20 years ago. On Sundays and holidays, the city of Bogotá closes off its major streets for its Ciclovía, meaning bike path. The city also hosts different kinds of group exercise throughout Bogotá. Mayor Gavin Newsom learned about the event that has spread from Colombia to Asia, Europe, and to major US cities. In a letter from his office, Newsom stated Sunday Streets is part of the Shape Up San Francisco program, which promotes healthy living. “It will bring physical activity space to our neighborhoods on Sunday mornings, creating a route for thousands of local families, kids and adults to walk, jog, and bike, as well as participate in group exercise,” Newsom explained.
When asked if the Sunday Streets would become a weekly event, Bonnie Cassinelli of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department said that cost would be a major issue in turning the event in a regular thing. Sunday Streets requires collaboration with many different city and private agencies, including the police and fire departments. Those who showed up for the event were enthusiastic. “I am absolutely delighted beyond imagination to live in a city where I can ride my bike to get around, especially in a time where gas prices are so high,” Kathryn Gordon, an event participant exclaimed. “Riding a bike forces you to slow your life down, become familiar with where you live and meet new people. Hopefully, this event will promote new ways for living,” Gordon said.
The city of San Francisco will be hosting another Sunday Streets on Sunday, September 14 from 9 am to 1pm.
For more information visit www.Sundaystreetssf.com.