Following the inaugural Open Streets Minneapolis event in June of 2011, Minneapolis residents will have another opportunity to explore and enjoy their neighborhood streets without the presence of motorized traffic on June 10th, 2012. Open Streets events (based on the Ciclovía from Bogotá, Colombia) bring together families and neighbors to bike, walk, socialize, play and shop in their communities in a safe, car-free environment.
Last year Open Streets Minneapolis was from 10:00am – 2:00pm. This year Open Streets will extend two more hours and end at 4:00pm.
Open Streets Minneapolis is organized and presented by the volunteer non-profit Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and receives no financial or in-kind support from the City of Minneapolis.
Based on the success of last year’s event—as well as the Streets Alive! initiative in Fargo-Moorhead—Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) awarded several sponsorships for communities across the state to implement Open Streets events in 2012. Support for Open Streets Minneapolis also comes from many local sources, including businesses up and down Lyndale Avenue South.
Open Streets Minneapolis promotes the following:
- Sustainable transportation choices, including walking, bicycling and transit.
- Public health, bringing healthy physical activity to different communities.
- Local business, drawing foot traffic past the front doors.
- Public space, helping residents see our streets as places where we can all come together and take pride in our city.
A difference between Open Streets Minneapolis and a street festival is the conscious decision to not program an overabundance of complementary activities and recruit outside businesses to have a presence along the street. Rather, the intent is to highlight local businesses already along the street, promoting the idea that by having more people traveling at walking and biking speeds, businesses have a better chance of being noticed, and economic activity increases during and, potentially, after the event. Through a questionnaire after last year’s event, all surveyed businesses reported equal to above average sales on that Sunday versus a typical Sunday.
By attending an Open Streets event, a participant leaves with takeaways that can inform decisions about urban planning and everyday transportation. By experiencing a street full of people of all ages walking and bicycling comfortably and happily on a street typically congested with automobiles, we see what is possible within our existing rights-of-way. The City of Minneapolis chose for the cover of the 2011 Minneapolis Bicycle Account a photograph of a child biking solo on Lyndale Avenue—a sight possibly never before seen if it weren’t for Open Streets (the photo was taken during last year’s event). Open Streets initiatives support the fact that by separating cars from cyclists, the number and types of people choosing to ride bicycles increases.
A video produced by Blue Cross highlights local businesses and community partnerships and features a variety of still and motion images from last year’s event.
Final details for the June 10th event are being finalized. All updates about this and additional Open Streets Minneapolis events can be followed via the Open Streets Minneapolis Facebook and Twitter feeds.