Open Streets OKC brings physical activity to north and south Oklahoma City 

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For the fourth time this October, Open Streets OKC inspires metro residents to ditch their cars for a few hours of healthy, nonmotorized activities.

The open streets concept began in Colombia in 1974 as ciclovía, “cycleway,” and slowly made its way to and across the United States. The health and wellness project invites all in attendance to walk, bike, skate or board while they meet local business owners and take in the unique flair of the year’s selected OKC neighborhood. Open Streets OKC 2016 is 1-5 p.m. Saturday on S. Robinson Avenue to SW 29th Street, spanning Wiley Post Park and the Oklahoma River.

Carrie Blumert, community partnership liaison for Oklahoma City-County Health Department, has filled various roles with Open Streets since its 2014 inception, but 2016 represents her first as its organizer.

The purpose of Open Streets is physical activity such as bicycling, basketball, jump roping, pingpong and more. This event also offers soccer in the park and water activities through partnerships with the OKC Energy FC soccer team and OKC Boathouse Foundation.

“Public health is all about prevention and creating an environment that supports health,” Blumert said. “The more opportunities we can provide for the community to be physically active and make healthier choices, the closer we move toward a healthy OKC.”

The first event in March 2014 was held on NW 23rd Street between Western and Robinson avenues, and attendance surpassed initial expectations.

“While working at our first Open Streets event three years ago, I remember thinking to myself, ‘I would love to organize this event someday.’ And here I am,” she said.

“Each year since then, on our 23rd Street location, we have increased our attendance from 20,000 the first year to almost 40,000 in 2016.”

She said this year’s area was selected due to its status as a growing business community. When local businesses are involved in Open Streets, she elaborated, the attendance and community engagement increases and it benefits the business as well with increased foot traffic the day of the event.

“We are very excited about this location because it links the south and north sides of the city while staying true to the Open Streets concept,” she said.

Local businesses set to participate in 2016’s festivities include Oklahoma Employees Credit Union, Latino Community Development Agency, Tyler Media, Family Builders, Open Options Inc., Natural Grocers, Oklahoma City University, Variety Care, EMBARK, Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation, NorthCare, Rivus Wellness & Research Institute, Family Expectations and more.

Blumert said the event provides a number of volunteer opportunities.

“There are a variety of things volunteers can do, from setting up the event, monitoring the crowd during the event or tearing down,” she said. “We have had great volunteer participation in the past and hope to again this fall.”

Visit openstreetsokc.com.

Print headline: OKC cycleway, Open Streets OKC links the north and south sides of the city with its street festival. 

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