green digest // Open Streets Minneapolis returning to Lyndale

It was about this time last year that some Southwest residents heard the term “ciclovía” for the first time.

Based on the ciclovía movement begun in Bogota, Columbia — where car-free street celebrations have a more than three decade-long history — last June’s first-ever Open Streets Minneapolis event closed 20 blocks of Lyndale Avenue to motor vehicle traffic, opening up the street for bicyclists, pedestrians and even a group of yoga practitioners who set out their colorful mats on Lyndale just south of Lake Street. One year later, Open Streets Minneapolis is planning a return to Lyndale between 22nd and 42nd streets 10 a.m.–4 p.m. June 10.

Organizer Colin Harris said he didn’t know what to expect last year, when he spent a lot of time in talks with city officials and neighborhood organizations explaining the community-building opportunities of the street celebration and the growing popularity of ciclovías around the world. But his message got through: Harris estimated 5,000 people turned out on an overcast but dry day to walk and pedal up and down Lyndale.

The group yoga session held next to one of the city’s busiest intersections was just one memorable image from the inaugural Open Streets Minneapolis. Attendees might also remember musician Cadillac Kolstad playing his upright piano on a trailer towed by two bicycles, the dance party on the bridge over the Midtown Greenway or the way Lyndale Avenue businesses threw open their doors to the passing foot traffic.

It was enough of a success that the event will run two hours longer this year, Harris said.

A full listing of events was still being prepared as this issue of the Southwest Journal went to press, but scheduled activities for Open Streets Minneapolis 2012 include Nice Ride MN-sponsored slow bike races, a roller derby demonstration by the North Star Roller Girls and a return visit from the Gorilla Yogis. Look for a hip-hop competition and dancing outside Tiger Sushi, 2841 Lyndale Ave. S., music and barbeque in front of French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, 2610 Lyndale Ave. S., and music and activities for children outside Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 4100 Lyndale Ave. S.

Harris said Bull Run Coffee Bar, Crema Café and Twin Town Guitars — all located at the intersection of 34th & Lyndale — were planning activities for their stretch of Lyndale, too.

June 10 is also opening day for the seasonal Uptown Market, which this year has moved to the parking lot behind Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., from its original location on West 29th Street.

Closing 20 blocks of a major street for six hours is no small achievement, but Harris has been dreaming of an even bigger event since last year — maybe even a ciclovía spanning the entire city. That’s not in the works, yet, but Harris did hint that another street in another part of town could host its own Open Streets Minneapolis this fall, “possibly late-Septemberish.”

Stay tuned.

 

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Bike Walk Week returns

Twin Cities Bike Walk Week returns June 2–10 with a week full of events meant to entice people out of their cars.

Last year, more than 10,000 people pledged to use their feet instead of driving at least once during Bike Walk Week. This year, those who pledge at bikewalkweek.org are also signed-up for Metro Transit’s Commuter Challenge, and by reporting when they walk or bike instead of driving alone are eligible for prizes, including one of several Amazon Kindle and Amazon Kindle Fire e-readers, Netbooks and Visa gift cards.

Of course, Bike Walk Week organizers would say the real rewards are in the personal health and environmental benefits of choosing active transportation, not to mention all the money saved on gas.

The week kicks off with several events on June 2, including the Tour de Cure ride to support diabetes research and the first-annual Northeast Ride, a 12-mile tour of Minneapolis’ most creative quarter. Later in the week, Women’s Wednesday on June 6 includes a women-only group ride 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. starting at the downtown YWCA, 1130 Nicollet Mall.

The week’s main event is Bike Walk to Work Day on June 7, when Mayor R.T. Rybak will host a midday celebration on Nicollet Mall outside the Hennepin Central Library. The event runs from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. and will include the local unveiling of the U.S. Postal Service’s new bicycle-themed “forever” stamps.

Several exciting events round out the end of the week, including the Greenway Glow nighttime ride on the Midtown Greenway during the June 9–10 Northern Spark art festival, Open Streets June 10 on Lyndale Avenue and, that same day, the Urban Assault Ride, a citywide race with an obstacle course at every checkpoint.

Some events require registration. Visit bikewalkweek.org for more details.

Reach Dylan Thomas at 

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