Ever wondered what it would be like to walk, jog, ride a bicycle or even play hopscotch in the center of W. Elizabeth St. without any cars? Then mark your calendar for Sunday, June 7, when the City’s Open Streets event will convert W. Elizabeth St. into a temporary car-free space, inviting you, your family and friends to come be active in the street.
This event is part of a national trend of car-free events that promote healthy lifestyles, build local community and encourage sustainable transportation choices. While Bogota, Colombia, is credited with the largest initiative of its kind (imagine 70 miles of car-free streets every Sunday and every holiday!), Seattle actually has the longest running car-free initiative, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015. This marks the second year for Fort Collins to host such an event, in hopes of many more to come.
Looking back to 2014, the inaugural Fort Collins Open Streets event was a success on many levels. We heard from neighbors who had lived next to each other for years but had never met until the event. A 4-year old was overheard stating, “This is the awesomest day ever,” as he rode his bicycle safely down the street with a parent. Another participant said Open Streets is “the most civilized event since sliced bread: I love it!” And the upcoming event promises to deliver even more community-building opportunities and anecdotal stories such as these.
The event scheduled for W. Elizabeth St. offers a unique chance to see the street in a whole new light. The two-mile route encourages people to try walking or biking in a comfortable, car-free environment. Strategically placed activity hubs will be located along the route, offering interactive games, engaging activities, and free resources. Sample activities range from a bicycle challenge course, to kids’ crafts, to a skateboarding demonstration, to local community farm tours, to a pedaling school bus. These planned activities are meant to appeal to residents of all ages and abilities.
Picked for its ideal mix of businesses and residential housing, the W. Elizabeth corridor allows for participants to take advantage of what’s existing, like great local businesses and a wide street landscape. Additionally, with the W. Elizabeth Enhanced Travel Corridor plan underway, this event will offer participants the chance to help develop a long-term vision for the corridor based on an understanding of the transportation, land use, environmental, economic and social needs of the area. Participants are encouraged to make the space their own and create their own entertainment. So bring your jump rope, walking shoes, chalk, hula hoop, bicycle and more, and come play in the street!
For more information on the event, including volunteer opportunities, a detailed map and schedule of activities, please visit fcgov.com/openstreets.
Becky Moriarty is the FC Bikes Program Specialist for the City of Fort Collins.