BERKELEY -- A two-mile stretch of Shattuck Avenue between Haste and Rose streets will be closed to motor traffic from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 13 for the second Sunday Streets Berkeley celebration.
On that day, the roadway between downtown and North Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto will be open to all forms of walking, cycling, skating, dancing, playing and other recreational and social activities. This is not your average street festival. The event will celebrate local businesses and eateries along the route rather than hosting outside vendors and food booths.
The day is inspired by the Open Streets model that has grown worldwide in an effort to transform streets into public car-free spaces. The movement strives to get people into the streets to interact with their communities and urban environments in a new way, promoting health, concern for the environment and support of local business.
"It's about experiencing our environment in a different way," said Emunah Hauser, Sunday Streets Berkeley program director through Livable Berkeley. "It's an inspiration to people to walk and cycle more in their daily lives and to support initiatives for more pedestrian and bicycle spaces."
This will be the second year for the popular event, which organizers say attracted more than 40,000 people in 2012 and increased local business sales by 30 to 50 percent on that day.
The emphasis will be on physical, cultural and interactive activities put on by local organizations and businesses. They will be placed along the route in parking lanes or intersection, keeping the streets open so bicyclists and pedestrians can circulate.
Event goers should be ready to enjoy zumba, hula-hoop and yoga classes; dodgeball games, pedal-powered music and chess games in the street; free bike repair, Bboying and music that gets toes tapping and legs moving. Children can participate in carnival games, interactive arts and crafts, science activities, face painting and pumpkin decorating and kids' bike rodeo, among others.
"We will have a lot of things you would expect to see in the park so think of this as an instant park in the middle of the street," Hauser said.
Merchants will have goods for sale on the sidewalks and eateries will be open. Two companion events, the Vine Street Block Party and Downtown Beats, Eats and Brews, will look a bit more like traditional street fairs, but will only include local businesses.
The event could not be held without the support of the city, which is committed to building an ongoing Open Streets program.
"Sunday Streets Berkeley ties in with the Climate Action Plan we adopted several years ago," said Councilman Laurie Capitelli. "It's a demonstration on a large-scale that our streets aren't just for cars; our streets are really for all of us to enjoy at a different level than just to move cars from one place to another."
While Livable Berkeley is the lead organization in this event, other partners include the Downtown Berkeley Association and the North Shattuck Association. Private sponsors have provided additional funding, particularly organizations concerned with public health, climate protection and sustainable lifestyles.
Based on last year's celebration, sponsors are anticipating large crowds of people open to discovering new things.
"It's interesting because participation is not defined by spending money," Hauser said. "People are clear of those street fair expectations so they're out there to just see what's there and who's there."
Capitelli hopes that this and future Sunday Streets will help change public perspective and consciousness to allow for the idea that streets can have multiple functions.
"I would like to see this more often and once we get it down I'd like to try it in some other places, maybe the Adeline corridor, University Avenue, San Pablo Avenue or Fourth Street," he said. "I want to keep it low-key, just a way of appreciating a space. Last year we accommodated over 40,000 people and I think that without turning it into a festival, 100,000 people could join the event."
The second Sunday Streets Berkeley is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 13 on Shattuck Avenue between Haste and Rose streets. Details: www.sundaystreetsberkeley.com.