[flickr]photo:6198220998[/flickr]2009 Open Streets: left-to-right, in orange shirts, Lucy Gomez-Feliciano, Adolfo Hernandez, Rob Sadowsky
[This article also runs in Newcity magazine.]
“On State Street, that great street, I just want to say
They do things they don’t do on Broadway”
– “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” by Fred Fisher
The question is, can Chicago do on State Street what New York City already does successfully, not on Broadway but on Park Avenue; what San Francisco does on Grant Avenue; and what Bogotá, Colombia, does on Calle 11?
Born in Bogotá, “ciclovía” (Spanish for “bike path”) events close streets to motorized traffic, creating safe spaces for citizens to bicycle, jog, stroll, play and mingle, encouraging healthy recreation and social interaction. Ciclovías are now popular around the world, and most of America’s bike-friendly major cities are holding successful events, but the model still hasn’t gained a foothold in Chicago.
This could change after Saturday’s Open Streets on State Street ciclovía, when for five hours the sight, sound and smell of hundreds of automobiles, cabs and buses on the famous thoroughfare will be replaced by thousands of people enjoying a giant block party. The free event takes place from 10 am to 3 pm, with State Street closed to traffic between Lake and Van Buren. Vehicles will be permitted to cross the route at Madison and Monroe.