Shattuck Avenue goes car-free for 17 blocks on Sunday

Sunday Streets in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood attracts out pedestrians and cyclists. Photo: throgers/Creative Commons

More than a mile of Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue will be open to pedestrians, cyclists, roller-skaters, dancers, and kids on Sunday Oct. 14 — but not cars — as the city holds its first Sunday Streets event from 11 am through 4 pm.

Seventeen blocks, from Rose to Haste streets, will also be a hive of activities as merchants, musicians and community organizations take the opportunity to engage with and perform for local residents. The offerings run the gamut from free free bike repairs courtesy of Mikes Bikes, Missing Link Cooperative and the Bike Station, to street soccer games, free yoga classes, belly dancing, hands-on science activities for kids, and a performance by the UC Berkeley Gospel Choir.

The idea of Sunday Streets, or Open Streets as they are also known, originated in Bogatá, Colombia and has spread around the world, including to San Francisco where it has been a regular occurrence in different neighborhoods for a couple of years.

Sunday Streets has created a Google map to show all the day’s activities on Shattuck on Sunday Oct. 14. Click on the map to go to the interactive version

Last year, Berkeley officials and activists began campaigning to bring the concept to Berkeley. “It creates a sense of community. It liberates you from your car. You can walk around and enjoy the businesses,” said Mayor Tom Bates at the time. His office, along with that of Council Member Jesse Arreguín, promoted the plan. It has been brought to fruition with the work of Livable Berkeley, East Bay Bicycle Coalition and the Downtown Berkeley Association, the Ecology Center, and the North Shattuck Association.

The event runs from 11 am to 4 pm and the organizers welcome volunteers to help with planning and on the day itself.

For a full list of the activities on offer on Sunday, check out the list from Sunday Streets.

Can car-free Sunday Streets come to Berkeley? [05.11.12]

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

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  • Annie Painter

    Certainly it’s from Rose to HASTE and not Vine!

  • Thanks. Corrected.

  • jjohannson

    I’d love to see free shuttle buses run the length of University Ave. from Oxford to the pier, and shut it down completely to car traffic.  Denver did this in this early 1980s with 16th Street downtown; it was a huge hit, and jump-started that city’s ongoing transition from LA car culture back to mass-transit culture, which it had been prior to WWII.  I would argue it saved the city more than any other single urban planning concept.

    Berkeley, too, was a train city until WWII, and traffic and population density that grew up around the train corridors make it a place today you don’t want your kids biking through.  A University Ave. corridor with free (they must be free) shuttles that is open also to bikes could transform commuting and commerce in this city.  It would link up two BART stations (Downtown and N. Berkeley) to free shuttle service west of Sacramento; including 4th Street and Amtrak; open up unimpeded biking from the Bay Trail to campus; reignite the possibilities for ferry service from the Berkeley Marina; bring more people with fewer cars to the waterfront; add acres of green space to the city’s budget with the avenue’s medians; and stimulate car-free easy-access commerce along one our city’s namesake commercial streets.  Visitors to the city from along I-80 (or even Amtrak from points East) could leave their cars in a sequestered area in the highway district and access downtown via the shuttle or by bike.  And it would be something both the town and the gown could get behind and collaborate on, a way to soothe the political culture.

    It would have the added benefit of requiring little in the way of infrastructural improvements.

    Bates, McCormick, Council candidates… any takers?

  • TizziLish

    Bogotá is misspelled in this story.

  • Guest

    This exact plan was suggested (and pursued, I believe) many years ago by Pat McClintock.  I am not sure why it didn’t happen.

  • jjohannson

    Very interesting… went a-Googling for Pat McClintock and came upon a rich piece of text on Berkeley politics in the 1970s by a fellow named David Mundstock.

    Toward the bottom of this page is a fantastic photo of Ron Dellums, John George, Cesar Chavez and Tom Bates canvassing door-to-door on behalf of their progressive coalition in 1975.

  • The Sharkey

    I’m curious – where do you think the traffic that currently clogs University would go under your proposed plan?

    That street is one of the main thoroughfares into and out of the center of the City since it links up with I-80 and the rest of the freeway system.

  • Jonathan King

    Just because the subjects in the photo are all male doesn’t mean they’re gay, let alone out. 

  • Charles_Siegel

    Thanks to all the people who made this possible.  I’ll be there. 

  • anon


  • Guest

    I live right off of University and don’t drive much but I do drive to visit family or go on road trips.  How would people living off of University drive in/out of town?

  • Mbfarrel

    I’d love to go, but where will I park?

  • Alina

    This is wonderful.  I am very excited.  I hope it’s successful and becomes a Berkeley tradition!

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  • guest

     The idea before was to eliminate rather than divert vehicles.

  • Charles_Siegel

     I agree that it is not possible to close University Ave to cars.  But it would be possible to improve transit service there with either:

    — BRT with dedicated bus lanes.  Yes, I know as well as anyone that this is politically difficult.

    — Bus Bulbs: street extensions at the bus stops that let buses travel faster because they do not have to wait for a gap in traffic to pull out from the bus stop to the traffic lane.  Instead, they stop in the traffic lane.

    We would need studies to see whether these would work in terms of traffic.  BRT might work, and I think Bus Bulbs would definitely work.

    Needless to say, AC Transit is unlikely to go ahead with this study, after Berkeley refused to participate in their BRT project on Telegraph.

    Of course, it would have to be AC Transit rather  than a city shuttle bus.  The city does not have money to run a shuttle bus, while the project would actually save money for AC.

  • Foo

    The irony is strong with this one!

  • guest

     Glory days!

  • david vartanoff

    First, putting satellite parking west of I 80 ANDa free shuttle service to/from there to the Campus should eliminate much of the traffic.  While the median is lovely, It should be replaced w/ reserved  right of way for streetcars(light rail if you like that terminology better).   As in New Orleans, SF,  and previously in DC, the rail median can be landscaped/planted to retain a green component.   As a regular rider of the current bus on University, getting rid of traffic from the transit lanes would make the trip vastly  more efficient.  

  • Charles_Siegel

     “As a regular rider of the current bus on University, getting rid of
    traffic from the transit lanes would make the trip vastly  more

    That is called Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  Look it up.

  • Cammy

    Great event for those who live in the area. And not nearly as crowded as I thought. I suspect it’s because it’s the first year. Not packed like Solano Stroll, where it gets really packed. I assume as they continue to do this there might be various entertainment venues and other events. Thanks for all who made this possible!