Dancing in the (Open) Streets

August 11, 2009

By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

Palmer_small

Photo courtesy of Lucy Gomez-Feliciano, Logan Square Neighborhood Association

Last weekend, community organizations opened up 8 miles of Chicago's beautiful boulevard system for bikers, runners, walkers, unicyclers and a few other 'ers' that I don't quite have the vocabulary for. And it was great.

As a resident of the west side of Chicago (Logan Square, to be specific), I've been all over the boulevards –  but this was my first time experiencing them so personally and without the distraction of cars whizzing by. I was able to experience Humboldt Park Boathouse, the Garfield Park Field House, Independence Square and Douglass Park which are all interconnected by an extensive network of (under-utilized) green space.

And when I saw thousands of people outside, playing games, biking, listening to music or just being physically active, I couldn't help but think that this is such a great intersection of health and community building. I mean, even the transportation management authority workers were smiling and laughing during this event.

This was a complex event with coordination needed between hundreds of volunteers and city services. And from my perspective, it was a huge success. To make this event happen every year (and maybe more than once a year?) we'll need to get the support of our city aldermen, our mayor, local businesses and community groups. Let's make sure this happens!

So thank you all around to the organizers of Open Streets. This was a great event that served our city so well. My only question… Do other US cities have similar events?

Indenpdence_small

Photo courtesy of Lucy Gomez-Feliciano, Logan Square Neighborhood Association