On Sunday September 8, from 11 am to 4 pm, State Street between Riverfront Park and the Capitol will be closed to motor vehicles and open for biking, skating, jogging, strolling, and playing in the street.  Connecting Wallace Marine Park,Riverfront Park, State Street and the Capitol Parks, “Salem Sunday Streets“ will be free and open to all ages with activities from arts and crafts to Zumba, a farmers market, yoga, music, games, and workshops on bike safety and basic bike maintenance.

City of Salem Neighborhood Services Specialist Corinne Fletcher, who is coordinating the event, said “Open streets events are gaining momentum all over the world.  They provide unique, free, inclusive, and family-friendly opportunities for a city to celebrate its people, organizations, and places, while also promoting healthy living.”   In addition to the city, other sponsors are ODOT, Cherriots, Kaiser Permanente and Salem Health.  Fletcher pointed out that with the participation of healthcare sponsors, people will be able to find information for making healthy choices.  If this inaugural event is a success, it may well be repeated.

In Portland, Open Streets events are held in different neighborhoods a few times each summer. Other US cities, from San Francisco to Boston, from Atlanta to Los Angeles –close streets to celebrate outdoor recreation.

The iconic, reportedly original, open streets event is the Ciclovia in Bogotá, Colombia. Since 1976, Ciclovia has grown to cover 75 miles of Bogotá streets closed every Sunday, attracting nearly two million people each week. Former Bogotá Parks Director, Gil Peñalosa says “Is it a park? Is it a walk? It’s much more than that. It’s an exercise in social integration.”

Salem Sunday Streets owes its origin to conversations about bicycling between Fletcher and neighborhood activist and bicycling advocate Curt Fisher.  In Fisher’s view, “Hopefully the long term benefit will be that people will learn to appreciate streets as public spaces that are there to serve a variety of users and not solely the domain of cars and trucks.”

For more information about Salem Sunday Streets see: salemsundaystreets.org