A friend who grew up in Berkeley who now lives in NYC e-mailed me this: “O.I.B.” and he’s right, “only in Berkeley” would you see some of these sights. On a super-hot October afternoon, the first annual Sunday Streets festival in Berkeley happened to be just steps away from my apartment so I wandered over there with my dearest to see what was up.
Other than the fact that the streets are closed to cars for a 17 block stretch of Shattuck Avenue and accessible only by hoof or by wheel, I had no idea it would be so bicycle focused. But, it turns out, the main sponsors of the event were Livable Berkeley, The Ecology Center, and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. What also sets it apart from other street festivals is that it mostly features merchants who already “live” on the block, rather than bringing in outside vendors.
And to make it even more top-notch on Momma Wheelie’s list, was the feature of music, lots of it, and so varied as you made your way along the avenue. Our ears were treated to jazz trios, klezmer bands, and bluegrass jams to name a few.
At the northern most end of Shattuck Avenue, we happened upon this collaboration between audience, musicians, and a unique organization called Rock the Bike.
Local songbird, Mana Maddy teamed up with all of the above and belted out her tunes on a stage powered entirely by pedal power. And just behind this scene, a school of hula-hoopers, from small to large and varied abilities, moved their hips to the lilting tunes. Check out this video of Maddy and friends in action.
Further on up the road we came upon booths with all manner of information on cycling and hiking, car-free transportation, and other eco-minded solutions to our currently overly oil-dependent communities. Check out this innovation of a bike powered blender!
Music was fun and surprising, like these 2 fellas calling themselves John Brothers Piano Company, whose energy could have been harnessed to power a kitchen full of blenders at least!
Moving to a mellower rhythm, was this dude, who just fit right in to the flow of movement at this scene.
We entered a raffle to win free tickets to local theater, watched members of The Berkeley Chess Club play a match on a life-size chessboard , got a quick (and free) brake fix at The Missing Link bicycle cooperative’s booth, sampled some tasty treats from a variety of outdoor dining options including a slice from Cheeseboard Pizza, a cool beverage from colorful Brazil Café, some truly French fries from Gregoire, and a wine tasting from Vintage Berkeley, a wine shop in the converted Vine Street EBMUD pumping plant.
I loved all the variations on the bike theme, like a bike accommodating man’s best friend, or this one that made no sense to me at all except for just its visual weirdness.
And you know what Momma Wheelie always says, there is just nothing like the bike, baby! Ride on!
All videos and photos: T. Mario Spadafora 2012