The last few times Central Avenue closed to traffic, it was for road reconstruction, the Celebrate Northeast parades, or to celebrate redevelopments happening. This time, it’ll be “to help promote environmentally friendly transportation choices, such as walking, bicycling and mass transit,” says a City of Minneapolis news release. “Open Streets events were also created to promote good public health by encouraging active, healthy lifestyles.
“The streets of Minneapolis will be active this summer as the city plays host to not one or two, but four Open Streets events starting in June.” During an Open Streets event, a significant length of a busy street is closed to automobile traffic for four to six hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 28 on Central between 27th and 18-1/2 avenues, according to Colin Harris of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition) to allow families and neighbors to walk, bike, skate, have fun and shop in a safe, car-free environment.
Harris said he’s met with people from the Eastside Food Co-op, Northeast Investment Cooperative, Recovery Bike Shop, the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, the Central Avenue bordering neighborhood organizations, arts interests and other businesses. Weekly planning meetings open to the public will start within a couple of weeks.
According to the City release, the four Open Streets events this year are on South Lyndale Avenue (June 23), Central Avenue (July 28), Minnehaha Avenue (Aug. 11) and North Lowry Avenue as part of Harvest Fest (Sept. 21). In addition to closing the streets to automobile traffic, the day-long events will highlight healthy living and fitness activities through a series of displays and activities.
The first Open Streets Minneapolis event was held on Lyndale Avenue South in 2011 and drew more than 5,000 participants. Last year’s events were held on South Lyndale and on North Lowry Avenue and drew 10,000 and 4,000 attendees, respectively.
Open Streets Minneapolis is an initiative of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, and for the first time, this year’s four events are co-sponsored by the City. The events have a number of financial sponsors, including the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, as part of Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to tackling the four leading causes of heart disease and cancer, and the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Play Streets initiative.
For more information on this year’s events, visit the Open Streets website at www.openstreetsmpls.com. To learn more about bicycling in Minneapolis, visit the City’s bicycling website at www.minneapolismn.gov/bicycles.
To see short videos of past Minneapolis Open Streets events go to:
Compiled by Margo Ashmore.