North Beach, Chinatown added to Sunday Streets schedule 

Pedestrians taking pictures at Chinatown’s Dragon Gate or sipping a latte in one of North Beach’s famous cafes will have one less thing to watch out for at some point this summer — cars bearing down on them.

That will be the case on at least one Sunday afternoon, as a program that shuts down city streets to provide space for yoga, bicycling and other activities comes to the two neighborhoods. The nine events this year will start later in the day, with hours between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“These communities have shown overwhelming support for Sunday Streets since the inaugural events in 2008, so it’s great to be able to bring Sunday Streets to these neighborhoods this summer,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.

Sunday Streets was met with skepticism in 2008 when Mayor Gavin Newsom shut down The Embarcadero for a few hours. Fisherman’s Wharf merchants complained that it cut off traffic to the area on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Since the original two events in 2008, Sunday Streets has expanded to nine days. Now those same merchants are asking for more events in their neighborhoods, according to Susan King, who organizes Sunday Streets.

“No controversy — that’s so 2008,” King said. “Some of our closest sponsors were once our largest foes. We’ve won converts just about everywhere we’ve gone.”

In the past, some residents complained they couldn’t get their cars out of their driveways or that it was too early in the morning.

“There will always be critics, but we’re doing what we can to address those concerns,” King said. “We’re not going down Harrison Street this time because we got a lot of pushback. The hours are later so people can go to church and still have a chance to participate.”

The new event has backing from Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, whose district includes the two neighborhoods, which are known for being “often gridlocked.”

There is no date set for the Chinatown-North Beach event and the route has yet to be planned, but King expects most of Grant Avenue will be closed to traffic and the event will happen in summer.

The first event will be this Sunday, between Mission Bay and Fisherman’s Wharf on The Embarcadero. Organizers say there won’t be as many planned activities along the route this year, so they’re counting on participants to start their own and encourage others to join.

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Brent Begin

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