Open Streets director Julia Kim at last year’s Open Streets on State Street. Photo courtesy of Active Trans.
[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Thursdays.]
Note: I wrote this piece early last week, a few days before Open Streets in the Loop took place on Saturday. As predicted, it was a wonderful event, with even more fun stuff going on than last year. As always, it was thrilling to see a street that’s normally clogged with motor vehicles turned over to positive human interaction. Next Sunday’s Open Streets Wicker Park/Bucktown, on bustling Milwaukee Avenue through bike-crazy neighborhoods, should be even better. It takes place on Milwaukee from Ashland to Western Avenues from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. See Steven’s thoughts on the downtown event below my article.
Last year I wrote a Newcity cover story with the subtitle, “Can Open Streets downtown sell City Hall on future ciclovias?” For this year at least, the answer was no.
Since 2005 I’ve been chronicling the Active Transportation Alliance’s valiant efforts to stage ciclovías, Latin-American-style events that shut down streets to cars traffic, encouraging healthy recreation, community and commerce. It’s hard to believe I still have to report on the relative lack of support from the city, especially since Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) commissioner Gabe Klein have generally been terrific on sustainable transportation issues.
Continue reading Open Streets, closed coffers: City Hall takes a pass on Chicago’s ciclovia.
[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.
Continue reading Can Saturday’s Open Streets on State Street convince City Hall to fund the next ciclovía?