Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Open Streets Is Back, but New York Ups the Ante

Remember Sunday Parkways, that experiment last fall that closed down Chicago boulevards to cars and opened them up to thousands of cyclists, pedestrians and skaters? It's back. Renamed Open Streets, it will take place this year on Saturday, August 1, across 7.5 miles of wide-open roads through five communities: Logan Square, Humboldt Park, East Garfield Park, North Lawndale and Little Village.

Like last year, neighborhood groups and others will sponsor activities along the route, from exercise stations to dance and music performances. I rode one of last year's two Sunday-morning events and it was a blast, so much fun that complete strangers spent a lot of time greeting each other and talking.

Still, I had to grumble this morning when I read in the New York Times that that other city will shut down 6.9 miles of Manhattan for THREE Saturday-morning events and sponsor DOZENS of additional "Weekend Walks" in the boroughs. This is the same city that has put benches and chairs and bike paths on a traffic-free Broadway, changing completely the atmosphere (literally) on that once-chaotic street.

So let's get out there and have fun on August 1 in Chicago, and then figure out what it takes to catch up to other cities (Quito, Ecuador; Bogotá, Colombia; Guadalajara, Mexico; Portland, Oregon) that are making us look bad.


Bob said...

Why just one day? Why not once every week?

Patrick Barry said...

Let's not stop at once a week.

Cities around the world have closed down particular streets to traffic all day every day, and when done right, they fill back up very quickly with thousands of pedestrians.

There are streets in Chicago that would benefit from that treatment.

Patrick Barry said...

ChicagoTalks.org picked up this piece and included a new video that includes footage from last year's event. I've embedded it above. Thanks to tommyrundown for finding the video.

Mike Quinlan said...

Great video! As the only jogger i saw last time, just want to say it's great for that too.

This event seems made for that custom google maps we experimented with. It would be really neat to identify all of the venues and events happening along the "trail".

Really enjoyed this last fall.