Open Streets, piloted last year in the Bethel neighborhood, is taking place again this spring in Eugene’s Harlow neighborhood. The City’s Open Streets program connects residents to local amenities and to one another by providing safe spaces for physically-distanced walking, biking and rolling on city streets. Starting April 19, Harlow residents were invited to use Open Streets to exercise as well as travel to nearby parks, shops and restaurants.
The City worked with the Harlow Neighborhood Association, which received reports from residents about speeding car traffic, to develop Harlow Open Streets. The program will slow some of that car traffic, making the streets safer for people walking, biking and rolling. The route runs between two shopping centers, creating a comfortable space for residents to try walking or biking to run their errands. Harlow Open Streets runs through May 17.
Programs like Eugene’s Open Streets are popping up around the country. In Oregon, Portland and Bend have also limited traffic on some of their streets. Nationally, over 50 cities have enhanced city streets for physically-distant exercise and around-town travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs offer multiple benefits — including helping meet climate goals and promoting health and safety. Some cities are even choosing to keep their programs beyond the pandemic.
Tips for residents traveling on, or nearby, Open Streets
Less motor vehicle traffic and lower car speeds make Open Streets routes more welcoming to people biking, walking and rolling on them.
Three groups may still drive on Open Streets:
- Residents living on Open streets who need to travel to/from their homes
- Emergency vehicles
- Delivery vehicles, garbage and recycling trucks, and other service-based vehicles
When using Open Streets, remember:
- Drivers: Proceed slowly and cautiously, looking out for residents using the street.
- Recreating residents:
- Be aware of your surroundings and make space for cars, when necessary.
- Maintain at least six feet of distance from those not in your household and wear a mask if maintaining space is not possible.