Observations and Inspiration from Atlanta Streets Alive!

At the end of September, I had the opportunity to attend the national Open Streets Summit in Atlanta, GA. The summit brought together new and veteran open streets organizers from around the country to learn and share challenges, successes, and best practices in organizing successful open streets programs in American cities.

By far, the highlight of the weekend was a great talk by Gil Penalosa about the amazing impact open streets can have on our cities, and why we even bother. A close second, was the chance to get out on the streets and experience Atlanta Streets Alive, Atlanta’s own open streets program.

It was fascinating to see how Atlanta Streets Alive is like Sunday Streets in some ways, and different in others. Below are pictures of a few things that I noticed.

Calm clear streets before Atlanta Streets Alive begins

Atlanta closes the streets to vehicles an hour and a half before Atlanta Streets Alive begins. The streets were calm and clear while programs wet up.

Wayfinding signage pointing to neighborhood destinations nearby

Wayfinding signs spotted the route, pointing out neighborhood destinations that were in an easy bike, walk, or transit ride.

Signs show program partners where to set up

Signs hung on trees or street poles designate the area where program partners are to set up.

On-street signage and branding

Every mile or so, these banners let people know that they are at Atlanta Streets Alive and the A-frames display maps of the routes and key destinations.

Information booth and free bike rentals!

Atlanta Streets Alive is organized by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. They host 2 or 3 booths where they pass out information about the event, sell t-shirts and swag, and recruit members. A program partner beside this booth offered free 30 minute bike rentals.

Signs to promote safe etiquette

A-frame signs in front of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition booths and other locations on the route remind people to be safe and polite while sharing the streets.

Atlanta Streets Alive kicks off with a bicycle parade! Complete with bikes adorned with phoenix scultpures

Atlanta Streets Alive kicks off with a bicycle parade! That is one impressive way to start the day. This parade was led by a team riding with intricate phoenix sculptures attached to their bikes.

People walk their bikes uphill in Atlanta too

There are hills in Atlanta too, and people walk their bikes uphill just like they do in San Francisco (see any photos of Sunday Streets by Alamo Square for comparison)

Local hardware store sets out display to take advantage of increased bike and foot traffic

The businesses along this street were really active in engaging. This local hardware store sets out display tailored for people on foot and bikes.

Restaurants host activities and advertise specials for Atlanta Streets Alive

Restaurants host activities like corn hole and advertise specials food and drink specials that are easy to take on the go for Atlanta Streets Alive

Simple water station to keep people hydrated

Simple water station to keep people hydrated


Glass blowing demonstration

Just like at Sunday Streets, I was surprised by the variety of programs and activities in the street. This guy had set up a glass blowing demonstration.

Police staff stationed at intersections - not too busy most of the day

Much of the street “closure” in Atlanta is set up and staffed by police. Most intersections (both those open to vehicle traffic crossing and those closed to vehicle cross traffic) were staffed by police. Those on the closed intersections didn’t seem too busy.


Of course, Atlanta Streets Alive featured volunteers throughout the route and day. Here are a few counting people biking and walking.

Of course, volunteers out doing numerous tasks, including counting participants


Meet Volunteer Spotlight: Cheryl Aiken, Cathy Gashi & Adea Gashi

Meet Cheryl Aiken, Cathy Gashi and her daughter Adea. They have been volunteering with us since the beginning of this year. Since then, they have volunteered at nearly all our Sunday Streets events. It’s passionate and dedicated folks like Cheryl, Cathy, and Adea who help make our program possible.

Sunday Streets

What motivates you to volunteer for Sunday Streets?

Cheryl: Sunday Streets creates an environment that encourages play for everyone. It is our set time to relax, laugh, listen and explore the city.

Cathy: I enjoy meeting new people and supporting a healthy lifestyle.

Adea: My mom and friend Cheryl.

What has been your favorite volunteer moment?

Cheryl: Hanging No Parking signs; because I know on Sunday I can ride my bike in the middle of the street with Cathy and Adea, muahhhhh!

Cathy: Collecting signatures to support the continuation of Sunday Streets.  This activity allowed me to educate many people on the benefits of the event.

Adea: Getting to explain what Sunday Streets is all about.

What is your most favorite thing about Sunday Streets?

Cheryl: Playing in the streets and being a part of a grassroots initiative that will one day become an institution.

Cathy: Being able to spend time with my daughter and best friend while supporting the community.

Adea: Being able to ride my bike while helping others enjoy Sunday Streets.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

Cheryl: I love to dig in the sand and jump in the ocean with my clothes on.

Cathy: I love bees and find weeding fun.

Adea: I am only 10 years old, but have been to Disneyland 11 times.

What do you enjoy doing, outside of volunteering at Sunday Streets?

Cheryl: Showing people around the city and asking my adult children a gazillion questions.

Cathy: Riding my bike, walking my dog and spending time with my daughter.  Oh, and eating sweets.

Adea: Swimming and jumping on the trampolines at House of Air.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering with us?

Cheryl: Sign up for different tasks/shifts, the staff and volunteers are knowledgeable and welcoming.

Cathy: Dress in layers, put on sun screen and get ready to meet lots of people.

Adea: You get to meet many new people.  You need to be able to stand for awhile and put yourself out there and communicate with people.


Thank you Cheryl, Cathy, and Adea for all your hard work! 

Meet Sunday Streets Volunteer: Ben Lin & Paul Bodner

Sunday Streets is happy to introduce our dynamic duo: Ben Lin and Paul Bodner. Read their short piece below to learn more about Ben and Paul. They are our rockstar volunteers and have been with Sunday Streets for over 5 years. Read about them below:

Ben and PaulHow long have you two been volunteering together? Why do you volunteer at Sunday Streets and what keeps you continually volunteering with them?

    • Paul has been volunteering since 2010. The Teamwork keeps me coming back to Sunday Streets.
    • Ben has been volunteering with Sunday Streets since 2009. Sunday Streets is a special opportunity for him to volunteer, because it is the city’s famous event that occurs each month. Ben volunteered at Sunday Streets because he enjoyed the outdoor activities and the wonderful staff keeps the event growing each year.

How did you first hear about Sunday Streets?

    • Paul first heard about Sunday Streets from Ben
    • Ben first heard about Sunday Streets for San Francisco’s past Mayor Gavin Newsom. It was an event started by Newsom in August 2008 and continued its development for years. The event debuted two times in 2008 and Ben thought it would be an good experience to try it out before he started volunteering. During that time, he tried the event from walking from Portsmouth Square in Chinatown and ended at San Francisco Bayview District near Opera House.

What is your most favorite thing about Sunday Streets?

    • Paul’s favorite thing is seeing it happen. “Usually kids have to be hidden from the big bad “dangerous” city, and can only be seen in parks and schools. Sunday Streets gives youth a safe place to come out and play.”
    • Ben’s favorite thing about Sunday Streets is a bit of everything. “From the organization’s booth and taking pictures of amazing biking and publicity of the events.”

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

    • Paul lived in Japan for three years teaching English, and three more in Taiwan
    • Ben has been volunteering for public events since 2005 (he was 13 years-old)

What is your favorite hobby to do outside of volunteering?

    • Paul’s favorite hobby is distance walking. He walked 345 miles in December 2013
    • Ben’s favorite hobby outside of volunteering is continuing to plan for volunteer activities with Sunday Streets and events for the future to come

Any advice or last comments you’d like to share about volunteerism

    • Ben’s advice about volunteering: volunteering is an good thing, and you feel good about it. It is a healthy option for myself considering anyone can do it. Whether you are first timer or had worked with the events numerous times.

Feel free to say hi to Ben and Paul the next time you see them at a Sunday Streets Volunteer Opportunity. Thank you for supporting Sunday Streets!

Meet Volunteer Spotlight: Amy Chan

This month’s volunteer spotlight is Amy Chan. She’s been volunteering with Sunday Streets for years. She’s a veteran intersection monitor and bike route captain. Learn more about Amy and read her story below:

How long have you been volunteering and why do you volunteer at Sunday Streets?
“I started volunteering about 4 years ago, I just came back from college and wanted to try out different things in SF. It was the last event at Mission, and I just loved seeing Valencia in such a different light and the excitement of people there, so I continued volunteering.”

How did you first hear about Sunday Streets? 
“I saw it on the SF Bicycle Coalition website.”

What’s your most inspiring story from volunteering?
One time, I volunteered with a lady during a one-day event in the city. Over 2 years later, at a different event over at South San Francisco, she recognized me the moment she saw me. I started volunteering a lot more when I came back to SF, and I am always surprised and inspired by the connections and impressions that volunteers and attendees make with each other.”

Tell us a fun fact about yourself
“I can roller and ice skate backward, and I have never knocked into anything – strangely, I can’t say the same for walking backward. Or forward.”

Any advice or last comments you’d like to share about volunteerism?
“One of the fun thing about volunteering, especially at an outdoor event with so many people like Sunday Streets, is that events unfold spontaneously. You never really know what will happen or what you will find. Look around, check out new places, people-watch, chat, and enjoy your day!”

Thanks Amy for your inspiring words!

Inspiration from Bogota

“Not a single automobile: The silence is deafening, you can actually hear the branches dripping moisture, squirrels scrambling through the underbrush — and the birds!” No, that’s not a quote from someone at Sunday Streets in Golden Gate Park last year, that’s Herb Caen writing about car-free Sundays in the park, back in 1973. Did you know, since 1967, 1.5 miles of JFK Dr in Golden Gate Park have been car-free every Sunday?

Seven years later, the city of Bogota, Colombia initiated their own program of car-free streets on Sundays, called Ciclovia. Over the decades, miles of streets and popularity of the program ebbed and flowed depending on the political interest and support at the time. It is now a robust program that boasts a network of over 75 miles and has inspired hundreds of other car-free streets initiatives across Latin America, North America and the world – including here in San Francisco. Despite having had car-free streets in Golden Gate Park since 1967, it was the success of Bogota’s Ciclovia that provided the inspiration for San Francisco’s first Sunday Streets events in 2008.

In 40 years, Bogota created a network of 75 miles of weekly carfree streets, that’s roughly 1 mile per 100,000 residents. In the 48 years since the first car-free streets in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco still has just the 1.5 miles of weekly car-free streets, or not quite ? mile per 100,000 residents.

Think about it this Sunday, while you enjoy the monthly freedom of Sunday Streets. What do you want San Francisco to be like in another 48 years? Just one day a month when San Francisco neighborhoods can repurpose their streets for people? Just 1.5 miles of streets in the park where you can bike, walk, and run on Sundays safe from vehicle traffic?

If you’d like to see more, sign the petition and your support for Sunday Streets and a bolder vision for San Francisco.

Sunday Streets is hiring

We’re recruiting a passionate and energetic community organizer to lead Sunday Streets neighborhood outreach and organizing efforts. The position is roughly August through January. Deadline to apply is June 30.

Position Overview

Reaching out to and engaging the community is an essential part of Sunday Streets success, and is an important component of our program. The Interim Community Organizer will work with staff to develop and implement a robust outreach program to engage community organizations and neighbors in planning; inform businesses, residents and neighbors of temporary changes to vehicle access and parking related to Sunday Streets; and market and promote Sunday Streets to encourage neighborhood participation. The Interim Community Organizer is also responsible for recruiting activity leaders who particpate in Sunday Streets by conducting outreach to organizations and small businesses and developing and maintaining relationships with them on an ongoing basis.

The Interim Community Organizer position will begin on August 10, 2015 and end on approximately January 8, 2015. There is an expected two-week period for training with the current staff performing these responsibilities. The position is approximately 20 hours/week August 10 through August 28 and then 40 hours/week through January 8. Some evening and weekend work required. Attendance at all Sunday Streets events is mandatory (August 16, September 13, October 18).

Responsibilities Include:

Outreach Responsibilities

  • Update annual outreach plan as needed
  • Outreach to neighborhood Churches with letters and calls
  • Outreach to neighborhood Multi Unit buildings letters and calls
  • Create and send electronic information to partners, sponsors, city agencies and neighborhood blogs
  • Oversee merchant outreach
  • Prepare materials for volunteer outreach shifts
  • Assist with signposting and flyering prior to event
  • Host community meetings
  • Attend community meetings hosted by neighborhood and partner organizations

Program Management

  • Recruit local organizations and businesses that support Sunday Streets’ goals
  • Maintain relationships with activity leaders
  • Annually update and distribute program guidelines as needed
  • Annually update and maintain sign up forms (for businesses on route, businesses off route, performers, nonprofits)
  • Monitor all activity signups by sending proper information, and tracking registration fees
  • Coordinate and place activities along each route route
  • Create site maps to send to program partners and city agencies prior to event
  • Follow up with program partners after event
  • Keep database up to date

Event Day tasks

  •  Load in/out supplies Support event staff at information and volunteer hubs
  • Troubleshoot setup and breakdown
  • Monitor programs and activities
  • Respond to inappropriate activities



  • Passion for creating a more livable city for the entire San Francisco community
  • Familiarity with the goals and vision of Sunday Streets
  • Minimum of one-year experience with community organizing, preferably in San Francisco
  • Detail-orientated with strong organizational and project management skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, experience with data entry and database systems
  • Ability to work effectively with a wide variety of individuals, including volunteers, staff, partners, and members of the public
  • Strong go-getter attitude and ability to work independently; self-motivated and trustworthy
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Capable of physically demanding work, ability to stand for four or more hours, ride a bicycle, and lift 25 pounds
  • Problem-solving skills; calm under pressure; flexible attitude
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment
  • Knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite and Apple computers


  • Experience planning public events
  • Experience using Salesforce for Non-Profits
  • Valid Drivers’ License
  • Proficiency in Spanish or Cantonese a plus

Equal Opportunity Employment: Livable City is an equal opportunity employer; people of color and individuals from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Livable City does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnic background, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

To Apply:

Email resume and cover letter in one document to hr@livablecity.org by June 30. Please include your salary history or salary requirements.


Meet Sunday Streets Volunteer: Matthew Evans

This month’s volunteer spotlight is Matthew Evans. He’s a long-time Intersection Monitor and loves to people watch. Read his story below and learn why he volunteers.

Be like Matt and sign up at SundayStreetsSF.com/Volunteer

matt evans

How long have you been volunteering? 
I have volunteered with Sunday Streets since 2013.

Why do you volunteer at Sunday Streets? 
I found myself dancing with an outdoor Zumba instructor during Sunday Streets Mission and I knew I was hooked on the event. I like to volunteer so it seemed like a natural fit to start volunteering with Sunday Streets.

What keeps you coming back?
I love to people-watch in San Francisco and there’s no better place to do it than at Sunday Streets. It’s a great group of people that shows up for these events. The staff, volunteer crew, and all of the attendees are fun and interesting people.

I also walk San Francisco every day and I’m happy to help promote the slower pace. It’s nice to be able to add value to the pedestrian scene while I enjoy it by lending a few hours of my time to Sunday Streets.

How did you first hear about Sunday Streets? 
I stumbled upon the Mission event while I was out walking Valencia.

What’s your most inspiring story from volunteering?
Each time I volunteer I find myself standing in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people and having a great time. It’s a welcome reminder that there is still plenty of San Francisco left to be discovered and enjoyed. That is what I find most inspiring and it happens often.

Tell us something we don’t already know about yourself
I can wiggle my ears.

Any advice or last comments you’d like to share about volunteerism 

My advice: Volunteer to do the things that you already enjoy doing. It’s a good way to promote those experiences for others and a great way to get more out of those experiences for yourself!


Transforming Streets into Public Space for People

While you’re walking down Valencia Street this Sunday, you may notice something different. In front of a restaurant where cars usually park, there are tables, chairs, and a succulent garden. In front of an art studio, there’s an outdoor art installation. In front of a school, there’s an interactive science project. This isn’t just for Sunday Streets, this is every day. Valencia Street hosts nine of over 50 parklets in San Francisco. Parklets transform one or two on-street parking spaces into spaces for people, and are a popular initiative of the Pavement to Parks program.

San Francisco’s streets and public rights-of-way make up 25% of the city’s land area; more space than all the public parks combined. The Pavement to Parks program seeks to test the possibilities of converting excess road space into new pedestrian spaces like plazas, living alleys, and parklets.

While Pavement to Parks explores opportunities to create permanent transformations, there are a variety of ways to repurpose streets intermittently. Sunday Streets uses miles of streets to create recreational space for people to get out and be active. On a smaller scale, Play Streets can transform just one or two blocks into a safe place for kids to play in the streets like they used to. Block parties use neighborhood streets as a place for community gathering and celebration. In New York, Weekend Walks activate commercial corridors with arts and crafts, music, outdoor dining, and youth programming.

Want to transform and activate your street into a more inviting place? Check out the sfbetterstreets.org website, your one stop shop for ideas and resources. Shoot us an email at sundaystreets@livablecity.org. We’d love to hear and share what you’re up to.

Meet Sunday Streets Volunteer: Bill Kane

This month’s volunteer spotlight is Bill Kane. Read his story below and see how Sunday Streets has positively impacted his life.

Be like Bill! Sign up at SundayStreetsSF.com/Volunteer.

Bill Kane peace sign

How long have you been a volunteer with Sunday  Streets?
“My 1st event was in 2012, so for about 3 years now.”

How did you first hear about Sunday Streets?
“When I first came to the Bay area I explored all the neighborhoods by walking around the City. On one trip I stumbled on an event in the Mission District, stopped by the info booth and asked about what was going on. I then signed up to get info on the next events.”

Why do you volunteer at Sunday Streets?
“As a kid I would hang out with all the neighborhood kids at night. Thats what we did, hung out and played in the streets. I get some of that same feeling now at the Sunday Streets events. Each neighborhood offers a different perspective on the City of San Francisco. Its so diverse. Sunday Streets simply became another way to explore the richness of the neighborhoods and the people who live there. I found myself becoming more engaged in what went on. I feel now as though I became a native here.”

What do you love about Sunday Streets? What keeps you coming back to volunteer?
“Again its the diversity of the city, where the events occur, engaging with the people you meet, not only other Sunday Streets volunteers but the other partners who make Sunday Streets work.

Engaging with those who come out to enjoy the day by themselves, with their kids. The occasional tourists who stops, chats, wishes they had similar events where they live. Never knowing who you are going to meet, and in some cases being surprised by people you have met previously.

In one instance, last year during the Embarcedero event, I had a young woman staring at me in a crowd of people waiting to cross the Street. She looked familiar, but appeared to be part of a larger group of Chinese tourists. Once crossed, I noticed she was staring at me again. I then realized it was someone I met once in a Starbucks, at that time a Junior at Berkeley. I had offered her some career advice as a Senior and ended up with the startup Pinterest.  I got so excited seeing her, we screamed above the roar of the cars. Its a lasting memory in my life, and made possible by volunteering that day.

So engaging is the key word. Engaging in life, in ways that wouldn’t be available to me before.

This City has so much to offer. As an East Coaster, I know there is no other place where I can get out and enjoy the sunshine, the weather. Having lived in NY, with all its beauty, the humidity will dampen any day outside in its different Seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall.

I have driven across the country now 6 times in the last 7 years. I have seen the beauty of America, its richness, I know the value in being here and just enjoying life. Sunday Streets is a great way to do it locally in these neighborhoods events.”

Which positions have you volunteered for at events? What’s your favorite volunteer position?
“I always choose to be an intersection monitor. It was the best way for me to enjoy myself initially. As you know, if necessary I’d stick around and volunteer the rest of the day for other things that needed to be done. I became a Volunteer Captain this year and also continued to Volunteer at Intersections. I offered to Photograph the events but realized there were others engaged in doing that so Ill catch a picture here and there and let those out focused on it do it and contribute.”

Any advice or comments you’d like to share about Sunday Streets?
“My first event I was placed at Mission and 24th Street. Those lights changed real quick and you really had to pay attention. At one point I was approached by a photographer for the Chronicle, she interviewed me, and then took my picture.Tthe back of my head. There I was, the back of my head on their web site.

But I shared that picture on my facebook page. My friends all around the world got a chance to see how my life had changed since moving from NY.

I really enjoy Sunday Streets, Ive worn my volunteer t-shirt all across the Country. People ask, “Hey whats Sunday Streets?” Locally I always tell people, “If you’re looking for something cool to do, come on out and play in the streets. Here’s the next event, check out the Facebook page.” I have also come across our program partners who patrol some of the busier intersections in the off season. During Xmas I ran into one fellow I shared an intersection with on South Van Ness when the Giants were losing to the Washington Nationals and hopes of the Series were fading. So we caught up on the SF Giants World Series win.

At this point I’m looking forward to the next event on May 10, Mothers Day in the Mission. Another season underway, I had a great time down on the Embarcadero for the season opener not only as a volunteer, but now as a Captain as well. I certainly have favorite events, the Mission usually ranks on top, with the Embarcadero, Western Addition, The Tenderloin rounding out the events.

These experiences and chapters in my life would have not happened if I had not initially volunteered at Sunday Streets. You see, you never know what will happen once you do it.”

Be like Bill! Sign up at SundayStreetsSF.com/Volunteer.

The Importance Of Volunteering With Your Family

In today’s hectic world, families are finding other ways to spend time together. One way to do this is by volunteering as a whole! Research has shown that family volunteering strengthens them by learning about social issues and provides a new perspective on the world. It provides positive role models and passes on family values to children. Volunteering is our civic responsibility, which contributes new learning experiences and development of new skills for both children and adults. It increases interpersonal communication and best of all provides quality time for the family to spend together.

Sunday Streets offer these special volunteer opportunities that make time for a collective activity. We promote living a healthy lifestyle and being physically active, encouraging people to walk, bike or skate, and foster and strengthen communities. Sunday Streets is just one of many organizations people should volunteer for. Volunteering can give each family member a chance to shine as an individual as well as a team. It has the reward of showing each other something rarely seen by staying at home.

So the next time you’re puzzled over how to spend time with your family, pay it forward and volunteer! It’s one of the best ways to spend quality time with one another while giving back to your community. It’s fun and free and you’ll learn so much from your experiences.

Learn more about volunteering and sign up for a shift at SundayStreetsSF.com/Volunteer, or email volunteer[at]livablecity.org.


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