From Main Street Macon:
Open Streets Macon, an initiative of Bike Walk Macon, will return with a new route in downtown Macon on Sunday, October 7 from 2pm to 6pm. Nearly two miles will be closed to vehicular traffic and open to people to walk, run, bike, skate, and enjoy our largest public space, our streets, without cars. The route includes Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (from the Ocmulgee River at Walnut Street to the Industrial District at Oglethorpe Street) and Cherry Street (from Cherry Street Plaza at Fifth Street to Bernd Park at High Street). Open Streets Macon is free and open to the public and all are encouraged to enjoy the streets of downtown Macon as they are transformed into a paved park.
Open Streets Macon is part of the international movement to advocate for a diversity of transportation options by reimagining how we use our urban streets. The movement began in the 1970s with Ciclovías held in Bogotá, Colombia where high traffic streets are temporarily closed for citizens to enjoy car-free streets. Today, over 400 cities host Open Streets initiatives. Open Streets provides stimulus to local businesses, offers a setting for greater civic participation and integration, and builds support for the provision of broader transportation choices.
The new downtown route exhibits how pedestrian and bicycle traffic can be drivers for economic development and encourage civic engagement. According to research conducted by 880 Cities, businesses located on Open Streets routes in numerous cities, including Fort Collins, San Diego, St. Louis, and Atlanta, cited an increase in sales as a direct result of their local Open Streets program. For example, stores in Los Angeles that engaged Open Streets participants reported a 57% increase in sales. Open Streets helps citizens slow their pace to discover new businesses by increasing foot and bike traffic while connecting with fellow citizens.
“I’m thrilled that October’s Open Streets Macon will include downtown,” said Scott Mitchell, owner of Travis Jean Emporium and president of the Downtown Macon Community Association. “I can’t wait to bring my store outside onto the sidewalk so that people can experience it in a totally new way and so that I can interact with new customers while enjoying all that Open Streets Macon has to offer.”
Open Streets Macon welcomes the entire community to explore the route and connect with neighbors and business owners in the urban core. Attendees can hop on the route at any point –there is no start or end –and experience Open Streets Macon at their own pace. Local organizations and businesses will offer participatory experiences along in the route and in activity hubs at Cherry Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and Oglethorpe.
In addition to activities like free Zumba classes from the Wellness Center, Navicent Health and bike safety demonstrations from the Macon-Bibb County Health Department, Open Streets Macon will include an augmented reality scavenger hunt featuring Pokémon Go. Knight-Niantic Fellow Joey Allen partnered with Open Streets Macon to develop the scavenger hunt that highlights local businesses and landmarks along the downtown Open Streets route. Players will be given a map to find in-game hotspots with questions tied to the location in their app. Players that complete the hunt will win prizes. In cities such as Charlotte and San Jose, integrating Pokémon Go into their Open Streets program exponentially increased attendance and offered the opportunity for citizens to connect over technology while exploring their city streets in new ways.
“We’re thrilled to bring Open Streets to bigger and busier streets this year,” said Rachel Hollar, Executive Director of Bike Walk Macon. “You would never encourage your children or your grandparents to go play in the middle of Cherry Street or Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, but on October 7th these iconic streets will be transformed into a place that is safe and fun for everyone.”
Visit openstreetsmacon.com to learn more, sign up to volunteer, or host an activity. For questions, contact Rachel Hollar at 478-335-1226 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For media inquiries, contact Emily Hopkins at 478-284-5553 or email@example.com.
About Bike Walk Macon
Bike Walk Macon is leading the movement to make bicycling and walking a safe, healthy, and affordable options for transportation and recreation for all Maconites.
Founded in July 2015, we are Macon-Bibb County’s first grassroots bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization working to enhance mobility to create a more vibrant, healthy, and equitable city. Through community leadership and inclusive engagement, Bike Walk Macon has become the city’s voice for all things biking and walking. We seek to make active transportation an option for all Maconites, no matter where they live or where they’re trying to go. We work to make our transportation network support active living and additional commuting options. For more information, visit bikewalkmacon.com.