A Sunday in the Streets

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The streets were lined with all manner of bikers, walkers, and dancers Sunday, all enjoying the bright sunny afternoon as the City of Eugene closed streets to motorized traffic for the first ever Eugene Sunday Streets.  The event encouraged community members to come out and take advantage of the 3-mile car free route. To take the opportunity to walk, run, dance, bike, board, skate or generally frolic, through the area spanning from Skinner’s Butte Park, along 5th street, down to Washinton/Jefferson park.

Event planner, Stella Day, told EDN that this type of event first started in Bogota, Columbia, in the 1970’s. It has since spread to a number of cities, including Portland, where street closings are currently occuring five times a year in different areas of the city.  The primary event sponsors included, the City of Eugene, Ninkasi, and the Climate Showcase Grant.

The event was initiated by a number of citizens, said Day who expressed an interest in bringing this kind of activity to the local arena.  Day said that she anticipated around 3-4,000 people in attendance for the event.  “This event is beneficial to the community because it promotes healthy, active lifestyles, while also getting people out of their homes and into a large community space.  An added benefit of the event, is that it also gives people a chance to get to know their neighbors and build a stronger sense of community.”

EDN had the chance to interview fellow Eugenian, Fawn Farivault, a bike rider taking advantage of the Eugene Sunday Streets.  Fawn told EDN that she decided to attend Sunday Streets because “I don’t ride that much and I would like to get back into it.  It’s a safe opportunity without cars, to enjoy some wonderful weather and take a break from work”.  Fawn said her favorite part of the days experience was seeing so many people out on bikes.  “This type of event is beneficial to the community because it opens biking up to people who aren’t a part of the regular bike community, and gets them participating in ways that they ordinarily wouldn’t be.”

In addition to the wide open spaces available, there were many family friendly activities to partake in.  Participants at Skinner’s Butte park had opportunities to recieve free bike maintenance and minor repair from Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life.  There were also line dancing lessons being offered outside of the Campbell center, as well as free yoga and thai chi. There were several local food vendors in attendance as well.  The event boasted culturally diverse offerings as well, with groups dancing in the street to various international beats.  Bike Friday was also present, providing demonstrations of their adaptive, folding travel bikes.

At Washington/Jefferson park, there was a pedal powered stage provided by the U of O, featuring some toe-tappin’ Bluegrass jams from the always popular band, Conjugal Visitors.There were also jugglers and large groups of hula hoopers present to entertain the crowd.With the success of this event, the organizers anticipate that the city will be planning more events of similar magnitude in the future. Until then, bike safely Eugene…and watch out for cars.

 Elisha Shumaker, EDN
photos – Brandon Preo 

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