Phase 3A//Article_1: Sunday Streets


Sunday Streets are events that encourage recreation, community activities and fun in San Francisco. Sunday Streets closes stretches of city streets to automobile traffic, and opens them to people for several hours on a various Sundays throughout the year, so participants can enjoy a large, temporary, public space where they can bike, walk, run, dance, do yoga, or do any other physical activity. Non-profit and health organizations offer free activities and share information about their services during the event.


San Francisco started Sunday Streets in 2008 to encourage people to get out, get active, mingle and see different parts of town.  Inspired by Ciclovía in South America, during which much of the city goes completely car-free every Sunday, San Francisco’s Sunday Streets creates temporary public space by closing off two to five-mile stretches of a neighborhood’s streets to automobile traffic, opening them to pedestrians, bicyclists, and activities for five hours on a predetermined Sunday.


Sunday Streets organizers have produced 36 Sunday Streets events using 9 unique routes that include more than 20 San Francisco neighborhoods.

There is a program with all the events every Sundays and a map with the street where develops.

San Francisco’s Sunday Streets – 2013 runs from 11 am to 4 pm on the dates below:

  •  March 10: The Embarcadero
  • April 14: Mission District
  • June 9: Bayview and Dogpatch
  • July 7: Great Highway
  • July 28: Mission District
  • August 18: Tenderloin
  • Sept. 8: Western Addition
  • Sept 29: Excelsior
  • Oct. 27: Richmond District

Type of poster that announces every Sunday the events.


San Francisco is the fourth most populated city in California (805.000 hab) and has the second highest population density in the country (+ 1340 hab/km²).

So is profitable create a public space where there is not nothing before to provide the neighbors a new place needed.


Neighborhood of San Francisco’s population- all ages:

Male: 50.83%

Female: 49.17%

Kids: 12%

Young people: 13%

Adult: 59%

Old people: 16%

Characteristics of the participants:

  • -73% live in San Francisco
  • -Represent a wide age range
  • -Are highly educated (78% hold a bachelor’s degree)
  • -Are physically active (79% engage in activity 3-7 days/week)
  • -Travel an average of 3.25 miles round-trip to attend
  • -46% are first-time attendees and 54 % are multiple-time attendees
  • -Multiple-event attendees are more physically active than first-time attendees, so increasing the likelihood of attendees returning to subsequent events increases physical activity levels.


That temporary street closures can have many advantages like allow cities to take better advantage of their roadways, especially at off-peak hours and weekends, closures call attention to neighborhood businesses and destinations and increase foot traffic on designated corridors. Data collection can support public perceptions of the success of a temporary implementation and may be especially helpful toward creating a permanent public space.

When themed around active recreation and exercise, temporary street closures may be aligned with a city’s larger public health goals and encourage residents to take advantage of parkways and boulevards as recreational amenities.

But also this type of events can receive a few drawbacks:

Closures typically require additional trash pickup and street cleaning in the evening or the following day to ensure that local residents and businesses remain active and supportive.

A removable traffic control device or barrier should be used to ensure that vehicles do not encroach on a street closure. Police enforcement is not necessary or desirable in all cases.

So, it’s recommended the following advices:

-Where regularly scheduled, especially if daily or weekly, a regulatory sign should be posted to indicate the closure.

-Closures are most successful when programmed with events and activities throughout the day. Programs may include performances, seating, food stalls, and other activities. Street furniture, including chairs, tables, and lighting can help to activate a closed pedestrian street.

-On days of closure, loading and unloading should be permitted for local businesses in the morning and evening hours.

Naming conventions for temporary pedestrian streets should be carefully considered.

Branding should be analyzed based on the intended audience and participants.


The program is co-sponsored by a non-profit organization called Livable City and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Collectively, organization and agency staff work closely with the San Francisco Mayor’s offices, other city departments and neighborhood stakeholders, to identify communities that are underserved in terms of public, open, and safe space for residents to engage in recreation and physical activity, and in which health disparities are higher.


Also it’s important to mention the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) that promotes the initiative.



Sunday Streets STARTS IN 2008 as  way to combat obesity by providing miles of car-free streets lined with a range of free physical activities to inspire residents and visitors to get out and be active in diverse SF neighborhoods. Routes connected underserved communities with the highest incidents of obesity and related ailments caused by lack of exercise and poor diet.

2008: facebook’s group Sunday Streets San Francisco

Since 2010: Sunday Streets Mission route had created

In 2010 and 2011, San Francisco State University professor Susan Zieff, PhD, worked with a team of graduate students and surveyed 600 Sunday Streets participants.

2013: Play Streets for All: this new program draws on Sunday Streets’ organizing expertise, helping community members to create a smaller versions of Sunday Streets in their own neighborhood.


The Sunday Streets program aims to create sustainable, livable communities and healthy, active populations by providing open, public space for safe, car-free recreation that promotes physical activity and social interaction. The street closures are the central platform by which the Sunday Streets program hopes to accomplish its four main goals:

Provide open space for safe, car-free recreation. Through collaboration between city and county agencies, permits are obtained for each event, and traffic is rerouted and monitored, among other activities. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, a local longstanding bicycle advocacy organization manages the training, coordinating, and deploying of volunteers to staff each event.

Increase physical activity and other healthy lifestyle behaviors. Once a route is chosen, Sunday Streets staff works with community liaisons, local merchants, non-profit organizations, and residents to promote the event to the neighborhood residents and to engage the community in planning culturally appropriate activities during the event.

Serve as a model for other open space initiatives. The Sunday Streets program staff use the events as a platform to play an active role in advocating for policy changes at the city, county, and state level that both provide for long-term sustainability for Sunday Streets and facilitate the creation of more public, open car-free space beyond the Sunday Streets events.

Strengthen networks within and between communities. Routes are selected to encourage and facilitate movement and interaction within and between communities. Sunday Streets events offer the forum for community members to come together to plan, execute, and participate in the events and in the process, learn more about each other, what their communities have to offer, and to build stronger connections among themselves.

**Considerations for Similar Initiatives

The following considerations were developed by the San Franciscan stakeholders involved in the EA conducted with San Francisco’s Sunday Streets. When planning or implementing a similar active transportation initiative, consider the following:

-Neighborhood Engagement. To improve neighborhood involvement, engage racially, ethnically, and economically diverse community members in the planning process. Involve community members in route selection, and consider strategies to connect residents to resources in their own neighborhoods and to nearby communities. Involve local merchants by messaging the “business case” for the event.

-Logistics and Marketing. Work across city agencies to coordinate logistical arrangements, such as permits. Develop guidelines for how to provide programming activities that encourage both physical activities and open space throughout an event. To market the event and overall program, explore strategies to brand the initiative.

-Program Sustainability. To sustain the program long-term, cultivate relationships with policymakers to garner their support. Identify and secure diverse sources of funding. For support with coordination of the events, consider strategies to recruit, train, deploy, and retain a strong cadre of volunteers.

**Why is a model case?

Sunday Streets offers a unique strategy for increasing opportunities for physical activity within existing urban infrastructures, that helps address the decline in physical activity that leads to increased rates of chronic diseases and obesity.

Since Sunday Streets began in 2008, it has accomplished the following:

-Sunday Streets attracted over 20,000 participants in 2010Sunday Streets has used more than –1,200 volunteers in the three years of the program, recruiting 125-175 per event.

-Sunday Streets staff has produced 17 events from 2010-2011.


  • Biking (24%) and walking (21%) were the most popular activities at Sunday Streets.
  • The greater distribution of ethnic minority participants at Sunday Streets shows that it attracts populations that are traditionally less physically active.
  • Sunday Streets routes traverse neighborhoods with limited open space and physical activity resources, potentially equalizing the distribution of recreational infrastructure.
  • A positive experience and safe environment were reasons to return to Sunday Streets. First time attendees also said the social environment was another reason to return.
  • A focus group of residents of neighborhoods with lowest access to open space showed a link between physical activity and convenient access to recreational resources.
  • Sunday Streets are an affordable way to support public health goals because they use existing infrastructure and street closures to provide physical activity opportunities in neighborhoods underserved for recreational resources.
  • Sunday Streets creates routes to enhance community connection.
  • Given the relatively high physical activity levels of participants (79%), Sunday Streets would more significantly serve public health goals by attracting participants who are currently inactive or minimally active.

A focus group of residents of neighborhoods with lowest access to open space showed a link between physical activity and convenient access to recreational resources. Providing Sunday Streets events in lower income neighborhoods that have less access to open space increases the likelihood of increased physical activity, and equalizes the distribution of recreational opportunities. The 2010-2011 study from Dr. Zieff shows that Sunday Streets participants are diverse, attracting people who are less likely to visit recreational spaces and are traditionally less physically Sunday Streets not only provides a safe environment for physical activity, but for building community bonds that occur thanks to positive experiences provided at each event. Sunday Streets participants have fun and enjoy spending time with family and friends in a safe environment. The study finds these are big reasons they keep coming back!

This is why Sunday Streets places so much emphasis on providing a safe, fun and all-inclusive event – the rate of enjoyment makes participants want to come back again and again, increasing the amount of exercise they get. Repeat attendees say their experience is very positive and they feel energized and that made them want to return. These positive experiences have also shown to increase the likelihood of exercise.

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