For four hours Sunday, May 21, a 2-mile commercial stretch of Broadway promises to be a car-free paradise, thanks to Sacramento’s inaugural Sunday Street.
The city expects 5,000 to 10,000 people to participate in Sunday Street on Broadway its first Open Streets Project, inspired by the public-space movement around the globe that encourages residents and governments to think of streets as destinations in themselves and more than merely corridors for travel. According to the Open Streets Project advocacy effort, the event will be the 19th initiative launched in California.
“For a number of years, people liked going to this kind of event at different cities like San Francisco, and we want to give it a shot now,” said Matt Read, a district representative for Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen. “This is the first crack to see how the reception is and see what are some challenges we will have to address.”
For Sunday Street, portions of Broadway, 26th Street and Second Avenue will be closed to vehicles from 8 a.m. to noon. Cross traffic will be limited to a few intersections.
Forty activity venues are being prepared along the temporary parkway. Throughout the morning, visitors can compete in tricycle races, attend yoga and dance classes, and listen to local bands.
Sacramento Republic FC will set up an inflatable soccer field and stage competitions during the event. Some team members will be on hand to kick around soccer balls with the public.
“We want Broadway to be a place not to drive through but to drive to,” said Erika Bjork, spokeswoman for the soccer club and board member of Greater Broadway District. “We understand how folks want to have a walkable and healthier city.”
Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates is going to test new bike lane buffers that feature wider pathways and a physical barrier from car lanes.
“This introduces people to the idea that streets are for them, not just for moving and storing cars,” said Jim Brown, executive director of the bike advocate organization. “There will be posters and signs that direct bike users into the protective lane, and we will have an opportunity to gather feedback from people.”
Councilman Hansen, whose district includes Land Park, was inspired by how successful Open Streets programs have been nationwide and later received requests for such an event in Sacramento. Hansen’s office has been planning for Sunday Street on Broadway along with Jennifer Donlon Wyant, the city’s active transportation program specialist, since September.
“We wanted to connect Oak Park and downtown for this event, and Broadway Avenue seemed to be a key connector,” Hansen said. “We are looking to bring Broadway back to life and tell people how great the street is.”
Broadway was chosen as the inaugural site, but the city hopes to continue its Open Streets effort on other streets in other districts, Hansen said.
Beyond a morning of fun, Sunday Street aims to stimulate the neighborhood economy and bring public attention to Broadway before upgrading starts on nearby facilities, Read said.
To that end, the city is not allowing outside food vendors in the area during the event. Instead, several restaurants and cafes along the corridor are opening earlier than usual hours to welcome Sunday Street attendees, Read said.
WALKSacramento will have staff on hand to guide visitors to various activities on foot, including its own, a pop-up creative sidewalk event where it is asking people to collaborate to paint a road structure, according to Kirin Kumar, executive director of the nonprofit organization.
“This is a great way for people to see the community through a less car-focused lens,” Kumar said.
Other partners of the program include Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Uptown Studios and the Greater Broadway District.
Sunday Street on Broadway
When: 8 a.m. to noon, Sunday, May 21
Where: Portions of Broadway, 26th Street and Second Avenue, in the Land Park, Curtis Park and North Oak Park neighborhoods; see map for points where vehicles will be allowed to cross Broadway. Parking is encouraged in the lots under the W-X freeway.
Cost: Free entry