In the chaos of trying to find a bicycle of the right-fit, by the time I brought my bike and got myself equipped with locks, helmet, and gloves, there was only one Sunday Street left to happen in 2011.
For those who were wondering, my bicycle requirements were: fit 4′-10″ female, geared, somewhat light, preferably with road slicks already, and the hardest part – under $100 but not stolen. Yep, I told you it was chaotic. Actually, most people would say that it is almost impossible. But once again, my perseverance and determination rules over the impossible – that’s a different story for another time.
Let’s fast forward to October 23. The last Sunday Street of the year, held at Mission.
For those who don’t know what’s Sunday Street, it is basically a car-free events that celebrates the local communities and neighborhood. The official website of Sunday Street describes it as such:
Sunday Streets is a series of events put on by the City of San Francisco to encourage health, community and fun, inspired by similar events in cities throughout the world. A Sunday Streets event creates a large, temporary, public space by closing off stretches of a neighborhood’s streets to automobile traffic, and opening them to pedestrians, bicyclists, and activities for several hours on a predetermined Sunday.
As a morning volunteer, I arrived before Sunday Street start, but there were numerous people there already – residents, store owners, booth owners, volunteers, even police officers. I know that Sunday Street is a big event, but I didn’t realize how big. When I looked at the map earlier, I thought it was going to 10 street block or so straight down Valencia.
Actually, it was 11 long blocks down Valencia starting from 13th street, then the event made a L turn at 24th street into another 13 short blocks.
TWENTY- FOUR Blocks!
No wonder they needed so many volunteers, and no wonder they needed the volunteers to wear orange shirts (so they could be seen among the massive crowd with people dressed in all different color and fashion – most memorably, there were a duo of pink bicyclists with a soap bubble gadget attached to the back of their bike. Predictably, several children trailed after them.
I almost did the same thing except I remembered I was volunteering).Without bicycles or some sort of wheeled device, I am not sure most people would go through the whole festival. But then, this was a bicycle-focused event, so I guess it made sense. The city and the various organization for this event must spent hours making everything work though. I volunteered as the Intersection Monitor on just one crosswalk, but even that became very eventful.
The crosswalk I was very monitored by me, one other Intersection Monitor, and two uniformed patrol. The job of us monitors was to keep an eye on the pedestrian and bicyclist (or tricyclist, roller-skater, skateboarder, etc), and the patrols’ was to deal with the drivers. Basically, we are similar to those nice ladies holding the stop sign near school (we got our own stop sign too!), except we were not trying to stop cars- we were trying stop any non-automobile individual from running the red light by accident.
Wait a minute, isn’t Sunday Street closed off to traffic?
Not completely. Some of the main crosswalk allow the traffic to cross Valencia (It is 24 blocks in total. Imagine drivers trying to go around that). The problem was that since the event is generally close off to traffic, people forgot to look at the red light after they legally ran over several red light in the past “closed-off” areas. So yes, time to grab a red stop sign, orange shirt, and yellow vest.
The event participants were very friendly toward us; the hardest part of the job goes to the patrols – dealing with the confused and/or angry drivers. Even with the opened crosswalk, the traffic still got jammed. There were also local residents who didn’t realize the event was today. The organizer did reach out through the local communities and tried to let everyone know what’s on though. Overall, while prior notification and routing traffic flow is very important for large events, they are also very difficult elements to control.
A lot of people did know about the event though. In addition to the pink/soap-bubble bicyclists, I saw a bicycle that shaped like a boat, a large group of cute little bicyclist-tricyclist, bicyclist with dogs, a bicycle playing music with boombox, a bicycle completely covered in campaign sign… the list goes on.
But as exciting as it was, by the end of my shift, I was completely worn out from just standing there under the blazing sun. Thankfully, someone came to replace me, but I really gained a new appreciation for the police patrols by the end of the day (They were going to stay the whole day!).
As a volunteer, I enjoyed a free delicious Falafel sandwich and sweet potato chips from Liba. When I first got the food ticket, I thought it was a local restaurant. To my surprise, while it is a restaurant, it’s actually a mobile restaurant! Alright. It wasn’t the first time I seen a mobile food truck, but this one caught attention. The truck was almost completely in green with a elegant, floral curve design. It looked very sharp and clean. When I went up to order food, they even got my order down with a iPad.
Bless the modern-tech age.
Modern style of food, truck, and ordering method – I found it to be a very complete design. Tasty, too!
I continued into the festival. Since I was on my bicycle most of the time, I ended up just enjoying the ride and not really taking any pictures. I did stopped for this really cool hockey match on bicycles:
There were a lot of booths, but I think the local stores caught my attention the most. I definitely visited the bicycle stores, but sadly none of the accessories I wanted was on sale. Every place was packed, so I had to get off my bicycle at some points, but there were so many things to see, I was stopping a lot anyway. After bicycling for a hour or so, I finally started heading home.
On my way to BART, I was interested by the fact that people – what appeared to be locals – biked on Mission Street’s sidewalk as well. I decided to give it a try. The sidewalk was generally wide enough, but it was definitely very rocky. Adding the pedestrians and the occasional food stands, I had to bike very slow and careful. It wasn’t difficult to get to the BART stop though. Other than getting my bicycle wheel stuck in the elevator at one point (note to self: do not attempt to fit bike in elevator 90 degree, even if your bike’s very tiny. ) and missing a bus ride because its bicycle racks were full (Sunday Street domino effect?) , I got home safe and happy. I even met another bicyclist at the bus stop that I thought came from Sunday Street (actually, she was just visiting friends), whom I ended up befriending after I helped her with local bicycle direction.