By Patrick Barry of LISC Chicago
July 6, 2009 – Remember Sunday Parkways, that experiment last fall that closed down Chicago boulevards to cars and opened them up to thousands of cyclists, pedestrians and skaters? It’s back. Renamed Open Streets, it will take place this year on Saturday, August 1, across 7.5 miles of wide-open roads through five communities: Logan Square, Humboldt Park, East Garfield Park, North Lawndale and Little Village.
Like last year, neighborhood groups and others will sponsor activities along the route, from exercise stations to dance and music performances. I rode one of last year’s two Sunday-morning events and it was a blast, so much fun that complete strangers spent a lot of time greeting each other and talking.
Still, I had to grumble when I read in the New York Times that that other city will shut down 6.9 miles of Manhattan for three Saturday-morning events and sponsor dozens of additional “Weekend Walks” in the boroughs. This is the same city that has put benches and chairs and bike paths on a traffic-free Broadway, changing completely the atmosphere (literally) on that once-chaotic street.
So let’s get out there and have fun on August 1 in Chicago, and then figure out what it takes to catch up to other cities (Quito, Ecuador; Bogotá, Colombia; Guadalajara, Mexico; Portland, Oregon) that are making us look bad.