Taking it to the Streets
What happens when you close off dozens of blocks to motor vehicle traffic and open them to the free will of pedestrians, bicyclists, hula hoopers and guerilla yogis? You get “Open Streets”. Like differently organized flashmobs, these community events are quickly growing in popularity around the country; in fact, there may be one happening in your city very soon. According to the Open Streets Project, there have been over 70 documented initiatives in United States and Canada in 2012.
The idea of Open Streets isn’t new. First launched in 1965, “Seattle Bicycle Sundays” connected city parks along a 3 mile bicycle route via city streets. Cyclists pedaled along the prescribed route, en masse, to enjoy a leisurely cruise on a Sunday afternoon. This idea spread to New York, San Francisco and Ottawa, Canada where similar events still take place today. In Bogotá, Colombia, 1974, “Ciclovía” was born as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets. Now these events happen throughout Latin America, and we’re now seeing a re-emergence of popularity of North America.
On April 15th of this year, the city of Los Angeles, CA hosted their version of Open Streets known as “CicLAvia” which drew over 100,000 people. L.A.’s second CicLAvia is scheduled for Sunday, October 7th. Similar bike and pedestrian friendly events such as the San Jose Bike Party draw thousands of people to each event.
Here in Civia’s hometown of Minneapolis, MN the second “Open Streets” event of 2012 took place on this last Saturday, September 29th in North Minneapolis. 24 blocks of N. Lowry Ave. were closed to motorists but open to people. Food vendors, cycling advocacy groups and the local hip hop group Y.N. Rich Kids all came out to take advantage of the car-free party in the streets. Civia was there to offer test rides, make new friends and enjoy the smooth jams from local radio station KMOJ. Visit the Open Streets Project or San Jose Bike Party websites for more information about this fun and empowering way to build community.
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