The open streets events on Lake Washington Boulevard in south Seattle date back to the 1970s. The iconic and beautiful lakefront road is closed to cars and opened to people running, biking, scootering and any other happy, people-powered way to move around you can think of. You may never see so many kids learning to ride a bike at the same time.
The events run from noon to 6 p.m. The street will be closed to cars from near Mount Baker Beach to Seward Park. Here are the 2014 dates:
- May 4, 11 and 18
- June 1, 15 and 29
- July 6 and 13
- August 10 and 24
- September 14 and 21
Bicycle Sunday was an innovative event that — purposefully or not — made a powerful point: When the danger of cars is removed from a street, people fill the space. Other cities around the world have taken this idea and run with it, temporarily closing portions of their streets to cars and holding big city-wide parties.
Called “Ciclovia” in Colombia, “Via RecreActiva” in Gudelajara and many other names in other places, cities throughout the Americas hold huge monthly open streets events, carving out a cross-city pathway of major commercial streets and hosting big street parties. People fill the streets, get some much-needed exercise and discover new businesses and new parts of their city.
This idea has made its way to the US in recent years, with Los Angeles holding CicLAvia several times each year and drawing more than 100,000 people each time. Here’s a taste from StreetFilms:
Portland has taken a slightly different track, creating loops of neighborhood streets for their Sunday Parkways events. These events utilize the city’s ample network of neighborhood greenways and also draw huge numbers, but leave the busy commercial streets mostly open.
Seattle holds a handful of Summer Streets events that close off a small portion of commercial streets in select neighborhoods. These are wildly popular and ripe for expanding into something more like a ciclovia (“SEAclovia”) or maybe a hybrid of the ciclovia and Sunday Parkways models.
Seattle played a big role in the open streets movement long before it got that name. During Tuesday’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting, Tom Rasmussen mentioned Sunday Parkways in passing and asked when Seattle was going to hold similar events.
Now that other cities have experimented and grown the idea, it has come back to us bigger and more beautiful than ever.
Let’s join in the fun.