For a few hours this Sunday, streets around Plaza Midwood and Elizabeth will be flooded with people — and you can be a part of it.
Open Streets 704, which aims to show that roads are for more than just cars, will take over Elizabeth, Plaza Midwood and surrounding areas this weekend. Select roads will be closed to vehicles from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, May 7, so that people can do, well, just about whatever they want on the streets.
It’s all about improving health and showing the city that people want walkable and bike-able streets.
This is the third Open Streets event in Charlotte, and the previous two drew more than 25,000 people.
The 3-mile route, which stretches between Independence and Veterans parks, is split up into four zones — Arts and Science, Family, Green, and Wellness — and there will be a ton going on in each zone all afternoon.
Never been to an Open Streets event, or just want to make sure you make the most out of this one? Here are five tips for doing it right.
(1) Walk, bike or take public transportation to Open Streets 704.
Open Streets is all about using streets for things other than automobile traffic, so why not get into that mindset by using something other than a car to get to the event? Walk or bike from one of the nearby neighborhoods, take the light rail and/or the streetcar or use Little Sugar Creek greenway. Bonus: You don’t have to worry about parking.
(2) Don’t have a bike? Rent one.
You can definitely walk all three miles, but you’ll experience more of event with a bike. BCycle has free bike rentals at various points along the route, so grab one and start pedaling. Trips for Kids will be loaning out smaller bikes for children.
And when you get the bike, take it over to The Plaza for a protected bike lane demonstration. Some folks in Plaza Midwood have been pushing for protected bike lanes on that road, and this will give you a chance to see what that would look and feel like.
(3) Get in the zone(s).
Each of the four zones on the route will have very different activities, so make sure you get to experience each one. You can zoom into the map above to see all of the activities, but here’s an overview:
– Arts and Science (orange on the map): Will have musical performances, artist demonstrations, maker spaces and dance ensembles.
– Family Zone (yellow): Will have a bean bag toss, pop-up dog park, street soccer, life-size Jenga and more.
– Green Zone (green): Experience nature, help out in a garden or learn about local wildlife.
– Wellness Zone (blue): Will have cooking demonstrations, yoga, Zumba and more.
Also in the blue zone: Tosco Music will be hosting an outdoor concert on the main stage at Pecan and Commonwealth.
(4) Dive into virtual reality.
Remember Pokémon GO? Well, its creators, Niantic, Inc., have partnered with the Knight Foundation to create “augmented reality experiences” at Open Streets events, and it will happen for the first time this weekend in Charlotte. What that means: There will be 16 Pokestops and two gyms at “significant sites along the route.” Just try not to run into anyone while you’re staring at your phone.
(5) Reward yourself with a beer.
Legion Brewing in Plaza Midwood, which is along the route on Commonwealth Ave., is releasing a new beer called Tonic the Hedgehog this weekend. It teamed up with Undercurrent Coffee, which is opening nearby, for this American Wheat beer.
Because it’s important to hydrate after a long day of walking and riding your bike.
Photos: Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer