What would you do if your neighborhood didn't allow cars on the streets for a day? Would you ride your bike, light the BBQ, or challenge your neighbors to a game of street ball? On Sept. 18, Bend residents will get a taste of what is possible when Open Streets comes to Bend and opens a local neighborhood's roads to everything but motorized vehicles for an afternoon.
Inspired by Bogota, Colombia's world famous "Ciclovía," where streets are closed to cars every Sunday and on holidays from 7am to 2pm, Open Streets is now active—and wildly successful—in 160 towns and cities of all sizes across the U.S. In cities that have embraced the event, residents use the time to connect, get active, and bring the community together.
Bend Open Streets is an initiative of Commute Options and the City of Bend, and is part of a broader city effort to encourage sustained physical activity, increase community engagement, build support for broader transportation choices and support a vibrant local economy. The event will take place in Bend's Central District where individuals, nonprofits, community groups and local businesses will be welcome to host activities.
Attendees can expect to see roller-skating, dunk tanks, art hubs, yoga and more throughout the afternoon. Education coordinator for Commute Options and project coordinator for the event, Brian Potwin, says that St. Charles, one of the event's sponsors, will host the Fall Kid's Health Festival on the corner of NE 6th and Olney. "Every half hour they'll be doing stretching classes, Zumba classes and karate classes that will be led by instructors," says Potwin. Health screenings will also be conducted at the festival.
Potwin believes the event will be a success. "There have already been 700 responses to the Bend Open Streets Facebook event announcement. We are shooting for 1,000 participants, and we may surpass that number." He hopes that the success of this pilot event will lead to multiple Open Streets events throughout the year, eventually working up to five per calendar year.
According to Potwin, drivers will have clear detour signs and will be allowed to cross the route at the intersections of NE Greenwood and NE 6th St., NE Hawthorne and NE 3rd St., NE 1st and Greenwood, and NE Olney and NE 3rd St. All other intersections will be closed to motor vehicles.
In an effort to make Open Streets a positive experience for the whole community, volunteers will be on site and ready to help drivers and pedestrians at the closed-off intersections. They will also assist residents along the route who need to drive during the day.
When asked what members of the community can do to help make Bend Open Streets a success, Potwin believes that the founder of the Open Streets movement, Gil Penalosa's, motto sums it up best, "To enjoy Open Streets, all you need is two feet and a heartbeat."
Bend Open Streets
Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016
Bend's Central District. The borders of Bend's Open Streets will be NE Olney Ave., NE Sixth St., NE Hawthorne Ave., and NE First St.