On June 12 I rode my bicycle down Lyndale Avenue here in Minneapolis (which is only a block away from my house) to take part in the Open Streets Minneapolis Cyclovia. Basically the street is closed to automobile traffic for the day. This is an event that has taken place for just a few years now and it’s also happening across the country in places like New York City and Los Angeles and Fargo-Moorhead . . . It’s about taking back the streets (for a while anyway) for people to walk, bicycle, skateboard, unicycle, anything that doesn’t use gas.
It was just for one Sunday afternoon but I think it’s a very positive event that allows people to see what’s possible without cars. It may sound a little silly to someone who always hops in their car to go everywhere but once you take part or just observe – it allows you to see your neighborhood in a very different way. For the already active cyclist, you get to see how many of your friends and neighbors also love to get out and enjoy their city using pedal power. For those who haven’t been on a bike since they were 12, it allows them to see that’s it’s OK and even cool. So many other cool people are doing it, I guess they won’t get embarrassed getting on a bike. It’s not just something kids do. It’s liberating. You get exercise, you see things, you transport yourself, and it doesn’t cost anything (not much anyway). That’s one of the things I love about Amsterdam in the Netherlands – everyone bikes – businessmen wearing suits, women in fashionable clothing, families with groceries . . . If you like to show off your style and clothing, bicycling is a great way to do that. No one can see what you’re wearing when you’re in your stupid car. Cars are very alienating . .
I don’t hate all cars. My hubby and I own two cars. I need a car to transport all my photography gear. I love my Volvo station wagon and my ’92 Honda Accord and I drove a motorcycle for many years. BUT . . . a lot of us may live to see the end of oil in our lifetimes so it might be wise to consider a few common sense options. We should all get off our collective fat asses and get some fresh air. Read the book, “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler.
Minneapolis has been voted the #1 bicycling city in the U.S. even though we have very harsh winters. If we can do it here, anyone can do it. No excuses. Before I was a freelancer I biked 10-20 miles a day to work and back whenever I could – which often times was every day of the week. I even biked in the winter when I lived within 5 miles of work. My hubby bikes to work 14 miles a day roughly 9 months out of the year or whenever weather and schedule allows.
This Open Street event also allowed me to see my local street differently. The street looked a lot prettier. It also seemed like everyone who lived on this street and nearby had spruced up their homes and yards for the event. Someone from a different part of the city or a different part of the country would think, wow, this is a great place to live. This HAS to be good for property values. A beautiful tree lined street with friendly people who all seem to know each other. The street was repaved a couple years ago and they changed the design of the street to include lots of traffic calming measures. This was good for everyone to see and be part of, even the cops – they can see that bicyclists aren’t criminals.
Here’s an update on how Minneapolis is making progress as one of the top bicycling cities in the U.S. – 2011 Minneapolis Bicycling Account.
“Though I will disappear . . .
to join the street parade
disappear and fade . . .
into the street parade . . .” ©The Clash