This fall, San Jose will join the growing list of 100-plus cities in nearly 40 states that temporarily close their streets to car traffic in favor of pedestrians and cyclists. The event, “Viva CalleSJ,” will, in the words of Mayor Sam Liccardo in a press release, “convert San José’s streets into a vibrant paved park.”
From 10am to 3pm Oct. 11, six miles of downtown streets will be closed to traffic. The roughly L-shaped route will run from St. James Park along Market Street and First Street to the Calle Willow Business District and then east along Keyes and Story Road to Emma Prusch Farm Park.
Viva CalleSJ is not a race, and people can walk, bike, skate and play at any point, for any distance. There will be three activity stations along the route, at St. James Park, Parque de los Pobladores and Emma Prusch Farm Park. These hubs will host vendors, activities, entertainment, “hydration stations,” bathrooms and bike parking.
“These events promote and encourage people to replace daily car trips with bicycling, walking, and public transportation, which is an integral part of our mission,” said Shiloh Ballard, executive director of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, in the event’s release.
The pedestrian-friendly day will be run by the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services Department, in collaboration with Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Seed funding has been provided by the Knight Foundation.
“Events like these attract and retain people to the region, create economic opportunity, and support a culture of robust civic engagement,” said Daniel Harris, San Jose program director for the Knight Foundation, in the release.
Viva CalleSJ is part of a larger city effort to emphasize mental and physical health, increase pedestrian and cyclist safety, and make San Jose one of the top bicycle-friendly cities in the United States by 2020.
The event was inspired by Open Streets Project, an initiative started in 2010 to close urban streets to car traffic and open them to pedestrians and cyclists. Viva CalleSJ will join San Francisco Sunday Streets, Oaklavia, Open Streets Santa Cruz and others to become the 10th such program in the greater Bay Area.