Here's what inspired social distancing circles at SF's Dolores Park

ByKris Reyes KGO logo
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Here's what inspired social distancing circles at SF's Dolores Park
What inspired the social distancing circles in Dolores Park and are there plans for more? We talked to the crew behind painting them.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's a simple innovation that's gone viral - Painted circles at San Francisco's Dolores Park to encourage social distance gatherings.

They were installed ahead of Memorial Day weekend, a busy time for the city's public parks. The images were soon shared all over the country and in other parts of the world, even inspiring a NYT Opinion piece, thanking America for doing the right thing.

VIDEO: Circles painted on grass to help social distance efforts at SF's Dolores Park

Many others have used it as an example for best practices when it comes to managing the growing outdoor crowds that come with summer weather.

"We have a turf crew that's responsible for mowing and lining fields. It takes a few hours, a team of four people, it's not expensive," said Phil Ginsburg, San Francisco Parks and Recreation General Manager.

Ginsburg said painting the circles have become a part of his crew's day to day work.

"I like to refer to it as behavioral art, it's intended to be playful."

Playful and extremely effective.

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The circles kept the crowds organized during Memorial Day weekend. And with little to no instructions, most people understand to stay in their own circles.

"I know my staff feels proud and I feel proud that we're doing it."

The circles are 8 feet in diameter and spaced 10 feet apart, ensuring plenty of social distancing. Dolores Park has 177 circles. The city has about 300+ circles in total spread to three other parks Washington Square, Jackson Playground and Little Marina Green.

"We are gathering data thinking about where else we could and should scale. There are some topographic issues, it's harder to do it on slopes and hills," said Ginsburg, who has received inquiries from other parts of the Bay Area, interested in installing their own circles.

San Francisco can't take full ownership for these circles, they first showed up at a park in Brooklyn New York. In fact, it was those images from Domino Park that inspired Ginsburg.

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One family enjoying the sun at Dolores Park told us they were happy the idea made it to San Francisco, so quickly.

"I think it's helpful to have guidelines and parameters, especially when we bring our kid," said Sundown Collins.

"I would love to see it on the beaches," said Nicolas Borzee.

"I'm not sure how they would quite work in beaches but I'm sure someone will give some thought to to that," said Ginsburg, who has received even more unique feedback, from geometrists and physicists.

"They were suggesting that if we try a certain type of triangle you could fit more spaces."

As for the ABC7 News crew, the circles had one other added bonus -- great for interviews!

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