By Nick Heimann,
MPH Specialist, FC Bikes
City of Fort Collins
Open Streets is coming to the Maple Bikeway on Sunday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2019 marks the sixth year of Open Streets events in Fort Collins, but these car-free events are growing in popularity across North America.
Car Free Events
A typical Open Streets event in Fort Collins features a low-stress bikeway or neighborhood street, typically closing streets to cars for 1-3 miles and allowing participants safely play, ride, roll, scoot, walk, or anything else that doesn’t involve a car.
For comparison, though, Bogota, Columbia closes 70 miles of public streets for Ciclovia—every Sunday! While Fort Collins is no Bogota, our Open Streets events are gaining traction as health-focused cultural events where participants can engage in free activities from a variety of local vendors, live music, visual arts, cultural programming, and can even purchase lunch from a local food truck.
In addition, Council member Emily Gorgol is hosting a Listening Session at Connexion Corner.
So, what can you expect at an Open Streets event?
For one, no (or very few) cars! We work hard with local residents to ensure that they have unbridled access to their residence throughout the event. Our great team of volunteers primarily act as vehicle escorts, ensuring that participant safety and resident access are the top priories.
This June, we have a schedule chock-full of great programming. From 10 to 1, there will be a dance workshop facilitated by Mightyrockmorez at the Wood Street Hub. From 10 to 2, Kind Dub is back again with Open Beats, a uniquely Open Streets experience where participants get to be their own DJ. At Putnam Elementary School, participants can expect an hour and half hour-long yoga session from noon to 1:30. Music for yoga will be provided by More Than Physics. Did we mention all of these activities are free?
Interactive music and dance/movement-based activities
Interactive music and dance/movement-based activities have become staples at Open Streets events in Fort Collins. This June, gone is the large, mobile mainstage, in favor of more intimate music experiences. Luke Peters, Maxwell Tretter, Hannah Brown, and Pappy Longlegs will all preform at Sherwood St. at Maple, the Connexion Corner Hub, sponsored by the City’s municipal broadband. Horseteeth Improv, a new NoCo improve troupe, can be spotted at various Hubs on the half-hour throughout the event. As they say, be sure to catch them for some Mile Hi-larity.
Sure, music and programming are great, especially when it’s free and family-friendly. But what I find to be even more remarkable about Open Streets events are the community building aspects of these events.
I pose to you: have you shaken your neighbors’ hand? If so, when was the last time? Do you know how many pets or kids they have, or where their last vacation was?
One story sticks out in my mind that highlights how special these events are in our community. In July 2015, two neighbors living on Whedbee St., the site of our first ever Open Streets event, met for the first time—in over seven years, and in the middle of a car-free street. They finally shook hands and got to know one another.
In June 2016, along Corbett Dr., I overheard a conversation between two neighbors. “It’s great to see you, it’s been too long! How are your grandkids? I haven’t seen them in ages.” The neighbor replied, “They’ll be in town later this month, you’ll have to come over!” I’d bet they recalled Open Streets when they did reconnect, but what’s even better is that Open Streets helped to facilitate a connection between neighbors.
This Father’s Day, I invite you to join us at Open Streets on Maple Street from Putnam Elementary to Lee Martinez Park. We’ll have plenty of activities just for Dad, or to help your family show Dad a little appreciation. Plus, Open Streets is a wonderful event designed to bring families, friends, neighbors, and the community together for a day outside, playing in the street. And that, my friends, is why I love Open Streets. Come Ride the Route!