Sunday, October 5, 2008

Strolling and rolling on Sunday morning

A family enjoys the car-free boulevard. Photos by Gordon Walek.

Chicago launched Sunday Parkways this morning and thousands came out on their bikes and on foot to enjoy traffic-free boulevards in Logan Square, Humboldt Park and East Garfield Park.

I've been viewing videos about these ciclovia events in other cities and they seem to be a transformative opportunity for our city. Imagine thousands of people, including many families with young children, strolling and rolling down the streets and stopping to chat with others -- all in a big-city environment. It feels good.

And it happened this morning in Chicago for the first time. When I arrived at the Humboldt Park Boat House, a techno beat was booming from loudspeakers and two dozen people -- including many children -- were following three instructors doing a kick-boxing exercise. Others stood around straddling their bikes or chatting with each other. Smiling.

"I'm elated right now," said Miguel Morales of Community Organizing for Obesity Prevention in Humboldt Park, who helped organize the activities. The Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness had sponsored two earlier En Movimiento events in the park this summer, but this worked even better because it brought so many people to the park, he said.

Farther south I ran into Rishona Taylor of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance. She was happy that the second event, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 26, will cover the same East Garfield territory but run south this time through North Lawndale and Little Village. See the route here. "I learned a few things," she said, "like next time we're going to cluster the activities a bit more" because the crowds prompt even more people to stop and participate.

A story in this morning's Tribune quotes the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's Adolfo Hernandez, who says that if this year's events are a success we may do more of them next year. Let's make sure our political leaders and neighborhood organizations realize that we want these events and we want them more often -- every week or at least twice a month during the warm months, so that they become a routine for many thousands of Chicagoans.

Do you have photos or video of Sunday Parkways? Please share it with others by joining the new site and posting there (or linking via YouTube or Flickr). Thanks.

No comments: