Open Streets: Cleaner Air, Zero Oil Consumption, and Safe FUN for Everyone!

by Tamar Myers

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For six hours on Sunday, the usual slog of trucks, cars and motorcycles on Lyndale Avenue gave way to a roving parade of bicyclists, walkers, skateboarders, people in wheelchairs and kids on (non-motorized!) scooters.

On June 10, twenty-two blocks of the bustling avenue were closed for Open Streets Minneapolis, an initiative of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, aimed at promoting “healthy living, local businesses, sustainable transportation and civic pride.” Sierra Club was a proud cosponsor the event because clean transportation choices help us move beyond dirty oil.  The event was modeled after Ciclovía in Bogota, Columbia and in cities across the world where pedestrians and bicyclists take over the streets on Sundays and certain holidays.

Despite climbing temperatures and gusty winds, thousands came out to take advantage of a street free of motorized traffic. Along the way, participants could partake in many different events. In one parking lot, a boom box blasted music and a group was enthusiastically led in Zumba. Other sites featured square dancing, “gorilla yoga” and live music.

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Food booths lined the street, some even making smoothies and ice cream powered by bikes. At the Sierra Club tent, both children and adults could spin a bike wheel to win prizes like window clings, copies of biking “rules of the road,” and the crowd favorite: temporary tattoos of the Sierra Club logo. To claim their prize, the contestants had to answer trivia questions that ranged from straightforward (Q: Name a benefit of bicycling A: Less air pollution, oil consumption, traffic congestion and improved health) to more challenging (Q: On a per-mile basis, are short or long car trips more polluting? A: Short trips, because much of the pollution is released during the first few minutes of operation).

We also collected postcards urging MnDOT to implement safe options for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users. We need to implement “Complete Streets” now, which will make our roads safer for all users, of all ages and abilities.  With the large number of a bicyclists at the event, there were many people eager to voice their support.  We hope you will too! 

Tamar Myers is Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s Land Use and Transportation intern. If you care about clean transportation choices like bicycling, walking and transit, we’d like to hear from you!  Please call the office at 612-659-9124 and ask for Tamar, or email joshua.houdek@sierraclub.org
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