Open Streets Detroit to open roadways for foot and bike traffic - The South End: Arts & Entertainment

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Open Streets Detroit to open roadways for foot and bike traffic

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 7:00 am | Updated: 12:36 pm, Wed Sep 28, 2016.

Open Streets Detroit, an event in which nearly four miles of roadway will open for foot and bike traffic, will come to downtown Detroit on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2.

The route will use Michigan Avenue and W. Vernor Highway to take participants from Campus Martius to Boyer Playfield, with a stop at Roosevelt Park along the way. While the two roads will be shut down due to vehicular traffic, there will still be intersections open for drivers to cross.

According to the website, one of more than 80 different programs and activity partners slotted to participate in Open Streets Detroit is Detroit Bike Share, an affiliate of the Detroit Downtown Partnership, which helps lead the Open Streets initiative.

Lisa Nuszkowski, the executive director of Detroit Bike Share, said, “Open Streets is part of a broader international movement. It started in Bogota, Columbia in the 1970s and it started for reasons of trying to promote healthy physical activities, to connect communities and to find ways to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.”

“Now there are over 200 cities throughout the world that have this program, and Detroit is going to be one of them this fall,” she said.

DBS and DDP became involved in planning Open Streets Detroit last fall when Toronto-based nonprofit organization 880 Cities came to a series of events called MoveDetroit, partially hosted by Wayne State.

880 Cities presented the idea that Detroit should join other cities across the globe in an Open Streets event.

Kailey Poort, DDP's director of marketing and communications, said, “[Open Streets Detroit] is really to make [an event] that’s all about being walkable by residents.”

Poort said 880 Cities and Open Streets Detroit will have some similarities, but there will be some unique aspects to both.

“For example, on [Oct. 2] we are going to be doing some painting underneath the bridges on the entrance between Corktown and Southwest [Detroit],” she said.

“DDP is a nonprofit organization that’s focused on providing inclusive, inviting, diverse and economically sound programs for those in the downtown,” said Poort.

Human Scale Studio is a consultancy firm that is also working on Open Streets Detroit. The firm works on neighborhood development, urban renewal, planning and redesigning public space for people first, and is coordinating all the volunteers for Open Streets.

Jessica Meyer, a representative of Human Scale Studio, said, “The street will be closed to cars and open to pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders and then all kinds of healthy activities. We have a skateboarding tournament, aerobics and all types of other things happening in the street.”

Meyer, formally a WSU master's student in counseling, now focuses on public park, public space activation and road redesigns that complete streets and makes sure pedestrians and bicyclists have the same rights and abilities as cars do in a city.

“The goal is for people to come out and be able to walk the streets and kind of see the city in a different way from a perspective that they are not used to. And to celebrate healthy activities, youth and community,” Meyer said.

To find out more about Open Streets or to volunteer, visit openstreetsdet.org.


Contact reporter Colin MacDougall: cmacdougall.wsu@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @llaguodcamniloc

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