Annually, Eugene Sunday Streets has enlivened Eugene’s neighborhoods and business districts by opening several miles of car-free streets for thousands of residents to walk, bike and roll for one to two days in the summertime. The event attracted thousands of residents each year to enjoy the car-free space as well as the associated EUG Parade, which is taking place virtually this year. With Governor Brown’s Stay Home, Save Lives order limiting crowds, a re-envisioning of the event was necessary for 2020.
A new program called Open Streets will take the place of the Sunday Streets event previously scheduled for September of this year. Open Streets connects residents to their neighborhood’s amenities and to one another by providing safe spaces for physically-distanced walking, biking and rolling on city streets. Residents are invited to use Open Streets to safely exercise as well as to travel to local restaurants, shops, parks, and other neighborhood amenities.
The City is receiving input from local community groups, businesses, and neighborhood associations about potential Open Streets in various neighborhoods throughout the City. All residents are welcome to submit their ideas online.
The City launched the first Open Streets in the Bethel neighborhood near the intersection of Roosevelt and Highway 99, where residents in a nearby neighborhood will be able to use the network of four streets to access three parks, local restaurants, free summer meals and recreation programs for kids, and two shared use paths for longer distance walking, biking, and rolling. The Open Streets network in Bethel is expected to continue through mid-September.
Around Oregon, the Cities of Portland and Bend have limited traffic on some of their streets for the same purpose and they are not alone. Making space for physically-distant exercise and around-town travel is taking place in over 50 cities in the U.S.
An increasing number of people and families are turning to bikes as their preferred mode of travel as well as a way to get fresh air in a time when so many are spending longer hours than usual at home. Nationally, bike sales have increased as much as 121%. Open Streets will provide more safe spaces for those new to biking as well as those trying out bicycling for transportation.
There are three groups who may still drive on Open Streets:
- Residents living on Open streets who need to travel to/from their homes
- Emergency vehicles
- Delivery vehicles, garbage and recycling trucks, and other service-based vehicles
Less motor vehicle traffic and lower car speeds will make designated Open Streets more welcoming to people biking, walking, and rolling on them.
When using a Slow Street:
- Drivers: Proceed slowly and cautiously, looking out for residents using the street
- Recreating residents:
- Be aware of your surroundings and make space for cars, when necessary
- Baintain at least six feet of distance from those not in their household and wear a mask if maintaining space is not possible.