Imagine if your street was open to activities other than driving cars. What if for a day, it was safe to play in the space that connects home to home, neighborhood to neighborhood? Streets occupy 30% – 35% of our City. Imagine reclaiming this vast public space — the possibilities are endless.
STL Open Streets 2018 makes these possibilities a reality with the closure of Compton Avenue in the Gravois Park/Dutchtown neighborhoods between Cherokee and Meramec. On June 2, 2018, Compton will be closed to vehicular traffic from 11am – 2pm, in conjunction with the opening of the Marquette Park Pool and the City of St. Louis Public Health Department PIER Resource Fair (Osage and Compton). The day will be spent ‘celebrating the street’ and all St. Louis residents are encouraged to attend and re-imagine our communities with stronger public spaces and gathering places for social interaction and civic engagement. Photo above from Open Streets in Minneapolis, MN.
ABOUT OPEN STREETS
Open Streets movements officially began as CiclovÌas (translates to ‘bike path’) in Bogota, Columbia in 1974. Today, these events are popular throughout the world and there are over 70 documented events in North America.
The mission of STL Open Streets is to actively connect STL residents to public space. STL Open Streets promotes active transportation, healthy living, & increased neighborhood interaction & civic engagement.
Open Streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, allowing people to use the street for nearly any other activity. Residents can participate in planned exercise stations (yoga, dancing, hopscotch, pick-up games, etc.), as well as travel the route, connecting between destinations, walking or biking. These events demonstrate the important role public space plays within a community, as well as help create a vision for what a stronger, more vibrant neighborhood can look like if we more effectively use our public space. By promoting safe places for activity and interaction, Open Streets events help promote civic engagement and enhance social capital.
The benefits of these events can have lasting impact on the neighborhood. Open Streets movements are all about the people – working to create a physically and mentally healthier community. According to Gill Peῆalosa (8-80 Cities Executive Director), Open Streets are important because “People traffic replaces car traffic, and the streets become ‘paved parks’ where people of all ages, abilities, and social, economic, or ethnic backgrounds can come out and improve their mental, physical, and emotional health.”
STREETS AS PUBLIC SPACES
Public spaces are the living rooms of our neighborhoods. These places are critical areas for enhancing social capital and fostering healthy, vibrant and safe communities. Streets make up a large portion of and are the most visible public spaces within our urban environment. These spaces (streets) have largely come to be viewed as places for moving cars. They should be seen as the connective tissue of our communities, where people can move freely, connecting with other people, and to necessary goods, services, and amenities. When we dedicate these spaces only to cars, we miss out on the beautiful opportunities for chance interactions residents may have while walking, biking, or out enjoying their community.
Open Streets events provide a unique opportunity to understand the role public spaces play within our community and demonstrate the importance of enhanced mobility and access to goods and services. By opening our local streets to better connect parks, business districts, neighborhoods, educational centers and other community resources, residents get the opportunity to experience an enhanced quality of life and promote a vision for the future of their neighborhood that fosters stronger use of public space, resources and amenities. Additionally, Open Streets events demonstrate the ease by which you can get to so many great resources while walking or biking and encourage a stronger street life for these experiences. Yes, arriving at your destination is important, but the experience with your neighborhood while walking or biking is important for fostering strong communities. By reclaiming out street space with these events, we have the chance to transform neighborhoods into well connected and sustainable places.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT // GET INVOLVED
Join a growing list of partners in making Open Streets a success in St. Louis. Trailnet, City of St. Louis Public Health Department, Dutchtown, and many more.
To get involved in STL Open Streets, please visit the website at www.stlopenstreets.com. Follow us on Twitter (@OpenStreetsSTL) and Facebook (@STLOpenStreets). Save the date for June 2, 2018 from 11am – 2pm to join us on Compton! More details about the route map and activities along the route will be published closer to the date. We are actively seeking sponsors and partners & we want your group to get involved (more details on the website) or contact Jacque at [email protected].
Interested in having an Open Streets event in your neighborhood? Get your neighborhood to our event on June 2, and experience the fun for yourself! We are hoping to grow STL Open Streets and move forward with planning more events.