2014 Open Streets Minneapolis launches this weekend

Courtesy Open Streets Minneapolis 

Open Streets Minneapolis is back with a bang this year, with six events throughout the summer that kick off May 31 in North Minneapolis. The program, which was started by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition in 2011, has expanded each year, drawing nearly 30,000 people last year for four events. 

According to Open Streets coordinator Colin Harris, the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition spent almost two years planning the first event in 2011, partnering with neighborhood groups and businesses along Lyndale Avenue, where the first Open Streets took place. This will be the fourth year at Lyndale Avenue, on June 8, from 22nd to 42nd Streets. The first Open Streets was soon joined by another on the Lowry Corridor in 2012 (this year on September 20), which Harris says was a chance to showcase the businesses and residences in that area as well as an opportunity to expand the Open Streets initiative. From there, more locations have been added each year “as a way to showcase what the neighborhoods are all about,” Harris said.

This Saturday, Open Streets Minneapolis heads to North Minneapolis for the first time, on a proposed new greenway route along Humboldt and Girard Avenues. “It’s a chance to experience the corridor in a car-free setting,” Harris said. In addition, the City of Minneapolis, which became an official partner of Open Streets last year, will be conducting surveys about what the potential corridor looks and feels like. In some areas, sod will be laid down to give a feeling of the greenway with green space on either side. In another section, half of the street will be a one-way street and the other half will be a bike trail. The event will also include demonstrations of what a protected intersection would look like. 

Sarah Stewart, the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Specialist for the City of Minneapolis, said the city’s Health and Public Works departments are doing planning around the greenway in North Minneapolis, and that Open Streets is part of a larger outreach effort. Right now, she said, Minneapolis is seeking community feedback about the proposed greenway, which is just still a proposal without any funds attached. “It’s really important for people to weigh in,” she said. Working with 12 different community partners, outreach has included door knocking, groups working with nearby schools, faith-based and culturally based outreach and more.

Many of those partners will be at North Minneapolis’s Open Streets. “It’s another way to get people to learn about the project and understand what it means,” she said. “It’s important to us that everyone hears about it and has a chance to weigh in.”

At Open Streets, five different survey stations along the route will give  people an opportunity to fill out a survey and share an opinion. Various interactive activities will draw out what people would like to see along the route, Stewart said.

In part, Minneapolis’s interest in the trail is a response to community interest, Stewart said. The Health Department brought the project to the city as a way to bring “an active living amenity into North Minneapolis,” she said. “People who have better access to green space and trails tend to be more physically active.” 

Will Lumpkins, who is on the planning committee for the North Minneapolis Greenway with his girlfriend and North Minneapolis resident Alicia Holbert, got involved with the project because he was looking for natural approaches to help his Type 1 diabetes. For him, the new greenway would mean helping fight some of the disparities in health that North Minneapolis faces. “If you live closer to a green space, you tend to have a healthier lifestyle,” he said.

Because the route, unlike past open streets events, doesn’t run along a business corridor, “it was challenging to come up with places for people to meet and things for them to do,” he said. Activities have been spread out to different nodes, for people to experience, he said.

Lupmkins and Holbert will be running a Bohemian node on 42nd and Humboldt, with a sidewalk party, food, and local arts and crafts, along with Taco Taxi. Other features include a huge urban farm fair right next to Folwell Park, a kid-friendly day of events at Jordan Park, with a talent show, and a huge BMX bike stunt show and skateboarding demo at Broadway and Girard, next to the Minneapolis Public Schools administrative building. Finally, a basketball tournament will play out at North Star Elementary School, with free food.

Here’s a list of all the Open Streets Minneapolis events:

  • Saturday, May 31st, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.: North Minneapolis Greenway Experience (Humboldt and Girard from Broadway to 42nd)
  • Sunday, June 8, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.: Lyndale Ave S (22nd to 42nd)
  • Sunday, July 27, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.: Central Ave NE (18 1/2th to 26th)
  • Sunday, August 17, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.: Franklin Ave E (Portland to 28th)
  • Sunday, September 14, 12 p.m.- 5 p.m.: Nicollet Ave (Lake to 46th)
  • Saturday, September 20, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.: Lowry Ave N (Vincent to Emerson)

In addition, St. Paul has its Open Streets event later in the fall, with St. Paul’s Open on September 21, from noon-4 p.m. along University Avenue from Marion to Lexington. 

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Sheila Regan's picture
Sheila Regan

Sheila Regan (sheila [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net) is a Minneapolis theater artist and freelance writer.