San Franciscans will soon once again be able to enjoy Sunday Streets, the program that shuts select streets to vehicles for a short period during the weekend in order to create more space for community activities.
Full-sized events are expected to return from their pandemic hibernation in October, but smaller versions of the program will begin later this month.
Dubbed ‘Rise Together Season,’ the events will specifically seek to reinvigorate communities that have been hardest hit by vacancies and a lack of foot traffic during the pandemic.
“To succeed at an equitable and resilient economic recovery, we need strong communities full of residents who are resourced and inspired to patronize their neighborhood small businesses and commercial districts,” said Katy Birnbaum, associate director of Livable City, the local nonprofit that helps oversee the programs.
Launching the spring series will be Bayside Saturdays, a program to celebrate the opening of a bike and pedestrian path in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. Attendees can use a self-guided map to check out points of interest along the newly connected corridor as well as participate in free fitness classes and giveaways along the way every Saturday during the month of April.
“Sunday Streets is all about celebrating the connections that make our communities and our city strong, and these connections are more important than ever as we move forward with our recovery from this pandemic,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.
Stringent safety measures will be taken, including social distancing, mask-wearing and hygiene.
Livable Cities already worked with the Chinatown Merchants Association to get the Chinatown Walkway Weekends off the ground in early February, closing Grant Avenue between California and Washington streets every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and offering wellness and cultural programming alongside extensive outdoor dining and other commercial operations.
Already, it has proven the impact this kind of programming can have in encouraging visitors to return to local commercial corridors that have been hurting economically during the pandemic-related shutdowns as well as provide additional open space to high density neighborhoods lacking green space.
“It has been one of the successes in bringing back Chinatown’s economy,” Eva Lee, program organizer and CMA board member, said in a statement on the Walkway Weekends.
The City, Livable City and community partners are currently crafting additional offerings for the coming months in neighborhoods such as the Excelsior, Tenderloin and Mission.