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Temporary Parks? Sunday Streets, Serving the Need for Urban Outdoor Recreation

Jackson D Wilson, Patrick Tierney, Mi-Sook Kim, Susan Zieff


Parks offer multiple benefits; however, the provision of additional park space is limited in dense urban environments. Park(ing) Days, Pavement to Parks, and Sunday Streets are three examples in San Francisco of public streets functionally serving as temporary parks. A review of definitions of parks found that essentially parks are spaces that provide opportunities for public outdoor recreation. However, the literature is mute on the question of the duration a space must be dedicated to public outdoor recreation for it to be considered a park. It was posited that Sunday Streets could be considered a temporary park if individuals functionally treated Sunday Streets as a space to engage in public outdoor recreation. Moreover, the relationship between concentration of residential parks and the probability of participation at Sunday Streets was investigated to further explore whether Sunday Streets was treated as a substitute for local parks. A 36-item survey was developed using previous research, an expert panel, cognitive interviews, and a pilot test. A Spanish and Chinese language version of the survey was created. Researchers chose survey locations and a strategy to recruit participants to maximize the possibility of collecting the most random sample possible. A sample of 558 Sunday Streets participants responded to the survey at three different Sunday Streets street openings. Almost all of the respondents engaged in outdoor recreation at street openings. Two distance-oriented outdoor recreation activities, walking and bicycling, were the most popular outdoor recreation activities. A regression analysis found that distance between participants’ residence and the street opening and the presence of local parks around participants’ residence were both significant negative predictors for participation at Sunday Streets (R2 = .273). This finding supported the hypothesis that Sunday Streets functionally operates as a temporary park. As a temporary park, Sunday Streets offers one option for providing additional park space in an urban environment. Public streets are not limited to the role of transportation; they can also serve the recreational needs of city residents. Sunday Streets is one example of how urban cities repurpose city streets to temporarily transform their public streets into spaces for outdoor recreation.


temporary parks; urban parks; outdoor recreation; Sunday Streets

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