06/14/12

The Worldwide Trend Behind Open Streets Minneapolis The Worldwide Trend Behind Open Streets Minneapolis

 

The Worldwide Trend Behind Open Streets Minneapolis

from Jamez L. Smith, Administrative Program Coordinator

Congratulations and thanks to the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition for bringing us Open Streets Minneapolis 2012. Bike Walk Twin Cities, as part of the Bike Walk Week collaborative, was a proud sponsor of this six-hour celebration on June 10, which served as a fantastic culmination of Twin Cities Bike Walk Week. With twenty blocks of Lyndale Avenue closed to motorized traffic, people of all ages were free to bicycle, rollerskate, walk, skateboard, dance, talk with neighbors, and experience the city in a new way.

Last year the Coalition introduced Open Streets or "Ciclovías" to the City of Minneapolis for the first time. Building on that success, Open Streets Minneapolis 2012 featured longer hours, expanded entertainment, and sunny weather!

Several organizations and activities line the sidewalks and occasionally fill the street for Open Streets 2012, including Transit for Livable Communities/Bike Walk Twin Cities, the Gorilla Yogis, Nice Ride MN, O.U.T. Championship for Skateboards, Twin Town Music Stage, Bethlehem Church & Blessing of the Bikes, to name a few.

Groups and events new this year included the Brompton National Championship, DansuRaw, Yelp Playground, Zumba, Flawless Drill UNIT, and Flared Bass Collective's Subsume Solar-Powered DJ Booth.

Ciclovías: Taking back the streets from Bogotá to Minneapolis

While Open Streets is a new, annual phenomenon in Minneapolis, Ciclovías have taken place in Bogotá, Colombia, since 1976. Each Sunday and holiday several main streets in Bogotá are blocked off to cars for the exclusive use of walkers, runners, skaters, and bicyclists. At the same time, stages are set up throughout the city. Each week approximately 2 million people enjoy more than 74 miles of car free streets as part of  Bogotá's weekly Ciclovías.

Ciclovías are celebrated around the world as to promote free, healthy, and community-oriented events. The concept has spread around the world from Tokyo, Japan, to Kiev, Ukraine, to cities throughout North America. In the United States, Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been opening Memorial Drive exclusively to bicycle and pedestrian traffic on Sundays (from April to November) since 1976.

San Francisco recently expanded on more than 40 years of Car-Free Sundays in Golden Gate Park with the addition of Car-Free Saturdays. San Francisco also hosted its first "Sunday Streets" in 2008, and now closes off main roads the first Sunday of every month from May through September.

Wayne County, Michigan, has held Ciclovías on the Edward N. Hines Parkway since 1983. The choice is fitting: Edward N. Hines was Chief Consul of the League of American Wheelmen (now League of American Bicyclists) Michigan Division during the 1890s, and is considered one of the most important innovators in road development.

Ciclovías are now held in Cleveland, OH, Tucson, AZ, Las Cruces, NM, Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA, Durham, NC, New York, Miami, Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta, Spokane, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Austin, El Paso, and more.

More Open Streets planned throughout Minnesota

Thanks to a new grant program from Blue Cross Blue Shield, in addition to Sunday's Lyndale Avenue event, Open Streets have been held in St. Cloud and Albert Lea. Minnesotans can also look forward to Open Streets events coming to Richfield, Rochester, Dilworth, and Fargo/Moorhead. Discussion is underway regarding an Open Streets event on Lowry Avenue in North Minneapolis, possibly this September.

Bike Walk Twin Cities is proud to have worked with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and Open Streets Minneapolis-as part of the organizing team and as a sponsor. And we are excited at the prospect of Open Streets becoming a more regular occurrence in the Twin Cities and throughout the region. Positive Bike Walk Week events, like Open Streets Minneapolis, strengthen the vibrant bike- and pedestrian-friendly culture in the Twin Cities. While Bike Walk Week has come to close for now, we're confident increases in biking and walking will continue with an ongoing investment in both nonmotorized transportation infrastructure and community outreach and engagement.

To stay informed about Open Streets Minneapolis, visit the Open Streets Minneapolis Facebook page and the Open Streets Minneapolis website.