Imagine: Within the bounds of an industrial, busy city, there are opportunities to walk, bike, and maneuver through residential and business districts of Detroit.
Enter Open Streets Detroit, the first ever program in the Motor City to shut down Michigan Ave and Vernor Hwy, offering healthy activities, interactive games, shopping, and much more! After a debut event on Sunday, September 25, Open Streets returns on October 2 for a final day of play.
So grab your running shoes and pump up your bicycle tires: Open Streets Detroit invites you to experience roads in a new way. On October 2 from noon – 5:00 p.m., Michigan Avenue and West Vernor Highway are set to shut down for free street fair activities, promoting community cohesion, health and wellness, and local business awareness.
Sponsored by Downtown Detroit Partnership and DTE Energy Foundation, celebrate the inaugural year of Open Streets Detroit by strolling the four-mile stretch from Campus Martius all the way to Livernois. Free activities will dot the grounds of Campus Martius, Roosevelt Park, and Clark Park, offering dance workshops, yoga, Zumba, and various street sports.
Read on for more information on Open Streets programming, along with a word from Kailey Poort, the Director of Communications and Marketing at Downtown Detroit Partnership:
The idea of Open Streets came to Detroit through a conference, where a need for alternative transportation was desperate in ‘the D.’ Today, over 200 cities observe Open Streets as an opportunity to increase patronage to local businesses while raising environmental awareness through alternative transportation.
With traffic clogs and car fumes polluting the air and area of Detroit, Open Streets seeks an open-aired concept, where pedestrians and cyclists put their car in park and unite for a day of environmental awareness and physical activity.
“Being part of the downtown infrastructure and making our city more walkable and bikable, helps the community to be healthier, makes traffic less congested, and we have new types of mobility,” explained Poort. “I just walked down the middle of Michigan Ave at the corner of Rosa Parks where I could just stand in the middle of the street.It’s so interesting and wonderful!”
Participants will be able to interact with the local businesses and community members, creating a more cohesive city experience.
Chad Rochkind from Human Scale Studio attests to the importance of community connection through Open Streets: “Walkability and bike-ablity are crucial to the economic life of cities,” said Rochkind. “Beyond that, places with great walkable and bike-able infrastructure are safer because there are more eyes on the street, and they are healthier because people are more active.”
According to the website, the long-term vision of this event is to “make Open Streets Detroit a regular program that highlights a variety of streets and neighborhoods throughout Detroit.”
“That’s the hope,” said Rochkind. “Events like this have the power to change hearts and minds, and eventually policy. Open Streets Detroit is designed to create a public lust for places that put people first.”
What about the local community? Poort attests to the positive response Open Streets has received from the local businesses and neighbors.
“The hope is that Open Streets Detroit sparks a dialogue about how Detroit’s streets operate going forward, said Rochkind. “Having robust and vibrant public life is crucial to the city’s success.”