Photo Credit: Matthew Roth for Streetsblog San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Matthew Roth for Streetsblog San Francisco.

The San Francisco Great Streets Project kicked off last night with a riveting speech from Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia and champion of livable streets reforms. Peñalosa spoke to the benefits of reclaiming valuable street space for pedestrians and emphasized that the amount of space allocated to cars is not fixed, but rather a political decision that can drastically reshape the city. “There is no such thing as a ‘natural’ level of car use in a city,” he said. “The narrower the street, the slower the speeds, the wider the sidewalks, the better you can feel.” For a full recap of the speech visit Streetsblog San Francisco.

Modeled after the New York City Streets Renaissance, which performed several successful demonstration projects throughout New York City around similar issues, San Francisco’s Great Streets Project is poised to work with grassroots, political and business leaders to “test, analyze and institutionalize Placemaking.” PPS initiated this process in April with a breakfast discussion for city leaders and leaders of community benefit districts to explore the potential of implementing new public plazas and creating streets that function as places. The event also examined the myriad benefits of improving the city’s public spaces and explored techniques for gathering diverse stakeholders to accomplish this vital goal. (Video of event presentations is available.) In the same month, PPS also led a “Streets as Places” training course for SFMTA and other agency staff.

PPS has helped to intitiate and lead similar Placemaking campaigns in Chicago and Seattle. We look forward to supporting the SF Great Streets Project and building on the momentum that Enrique Peñalosa generated with his speech.

On a related note, PPS is working in Bogotá this week to explore further ways that the city can lead the world in public space innovations.

More information:

Making Great Streets–San Francisco Bay Guardian