By Katy Bryce, for Commute Options
Back for a second year by popular demand, Bend Open Streets will celebrate Bend’s largest public space—our streets and roadways. From noon to 4pm on Sunday, September 17, Bend Open Streets will close streets to automobile traffic so people can walk, ride bikes, play, dance, learn and shop in the streets. The goal is to encourage sustained physical activity, increase community engagement, build support for broader transportation choices and promote a healthy local economy.
Last year, over 2,500 people turned out for Bend Open Streets and this year is expected to be even larger. Two miles of streets in Bend’s Central and Midtown areas, between NE 1st Street, NE Hawthorne Avenue, NE 6th Street and NE Olney Avenue, will be closed to vehicles from noon to 4:00pm.
“At Bend Open Streets, I was reminded why I love this town. I reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in a while and met amazing people from fantastic organizations that are helping shape and build our community. I rode my bike without the fear of disappearing bike lanes and I danced at a silent disco. But most importantly, I felt connected to community once again.” –Tina, Bend resident.
Bend Open Streets is different than a block party, street fair or festival in a few ways. There won’t be a beer garden, large music venue or booths for selling goods. It’s dog friendly (on-leash only, please) and free for everyone. All forms of non-auto transportation are encouraged—walking, running, biking, skateboarding, roller-skating, scooter riding—as long as you’re willing to have fun exploring.
Many businesses on the route will be open for business or providing fun activities such as human foosball (yes, it’s back for this year!), community art projects and more. Last year, residents on the route invited open street-goers into their yards with lawn games, music, and refreshment stands. Four designated Activity Hubs will also offer games, activities, educational opportunities, as well as food and beverage sales.
Open Streets, sometimes known as “ciclovias” are organized in over 160 towns of all sizes and shapes around the world, from Cape Town South Africa to Los Angeles, California. And now Bend can proudly be added to that list!
Bend Open Streets is an initiative by Commute Options, the City of Bend and Bend Park & Recreation District and presented by Pacific Source Health Plans. We are also grateful to our sponsors: St. Charles Health System, Bend’s Makers District, Precise Flight, Central Oregon Landwatch, FootZone, Video Works, Pure Light Chiropractic, Lava City Roller Dolls, AARP and Bend Electric Bikes. We would also like to thank our community partners: Bend Bikes, the Orchard District and Larkspur Neighborhood Association.
We hope to see you there! Visit www.bendopenstreets.org for all information.
Promoting choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org. Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.