A Movement About Movement

If you like to move, there is a little bit of maker in you somewhere. You don’t have to be an expert in physics or engineering to appreciate your body’s effort to power a machine. It’s fun to watch a machine move, but it’s even more fun when you make it move.

Like squirting someone with water on a hot day using your own two feet.

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A few years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Cyclecide; he said he knew a local guy he thought could make something inspired by their designs. As a long-time fan of DaVinci Days – and founder of Corvallis Spring Roll – I was smitten with the idea of something interactive at our kids’ bike event. Enter the bicycle-powered carousel created by Trevor Heald, owner of Marys River Metal Work.

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It looks like fun, it feels like fun, it must be fun, yes? Yes. But. Powering something with your own effort teaches you something about yourself and your capabilities, too. Saturday at DaVinci Days, a wide-eyed mother started chatting with me while she and I watched her child power one of the water cannons. “I think he’s going to ride his bike . . . I’ve never seen him move the pedals a full revolution before! He’s figured out he can do it.”

Sometimes fun is a learning experience in disguise.

How did we get from decidedly grounded activities to bicycling in the air? Once Open Streets Corvallis 2017 was on, the fangirl in me needed something adults could ride. Our idea had bicycles on the ground powering a swing in the air. Trevor was otherwise inspired by something he saw at a makers’ fair at OMSI. His instincts are perfect – The Flanger is bicycle-powered hydraulics genius.

flanger flying - eugene weast

In the end, though, Open Streets Corvallis is about more flinging, hanging, and flying by bicycle. It’s about shared experience, acknowledging familiar and unfamiliar faces, intentional public gatherings, and making another kind of effort – to listen and know each other. It’s about building community. From 2017:

“The open street events are so important for community interactions and people getting to meet each other.  Important for us seniors to not get too isolated.”

“I was energized by all the people who turned out, and I also had fun riding my bike along the parade route.  This event showed me that the best way to get an introvert out of her nest is to have an event right across the street.”

Sometimes building community is a learning experience in disguise, too.

Resilience and Connection, Plus a Bonus French Word

Open Streets 2017 gave me the opportunity to combine two of my favorite things: flânerie and talking to strangers. A flâneur is a person who strolls around in urban environments. And talking to strangers adds a bit of improv to the act of strolling.

I’m interested in resilience. There’s a “social ecology” to resilience – it is strengthened through a person’s physical and social environments. How cool is that? You can improve your capacity to navigate your way to resources that sustain your well-being by strolling around and talking to strangers you meet along the way.

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I’m the Creative Director of the Resilience Project, here in Corvallis (not pictured). We are starting a new event called the Summer Games – it’s kind of a scavenger hunt where teams complete events for points (our mayor will present the winning team with gold medals at the end of the Games – how cool is that?). The events are all designed to improve participants’ resilience, and give them opportunities for some silly fun for a week in August.

Look for Pop-up Poetry during Open Streets. The booth will be the intersection of Open Streets and the Summer Games. Summer Games teams will earn points for chatting with an Open Street-er for a minute and then writing them a custom poem in 60 seconds. The poem can be for you, or you can hang out and be a poet for a bit. Or try both! There’s more info at www.wearetheresilienceproject.org/the-summer-games

You should probably start training now for Open Streets. Start by taking a weekly walk around your neighborhood – put on some comfy strolling shoes and stay hydrated for chatting. I’ll see you on August 19th at the Pop-up Poetry booth.

Kriste York

 

Eyes on the Street: Neighborhood Bikeways

Keep your eyes on the street for another Neighborhood Bikeway demonstration on August 19!  You may have heard these transportation corridors referred to as Bike Boulevards, Green Streets, or Neighborhood Greenways. Regardless of name, the vision for these streets is the same – “quiet”, low speed, low-stress side streets shared with motorists that feel safe for bicyclists and pedestrians and promote community within neighborhoods.

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Neighborhood Bikeways encourage active transportation through simple street features such as:

  • pavement markings called sharrows – you know, the ones with a bicycle and v-shaped stripes indicating shared space for bicycles and vehicles;
  • diverters that move orkeep traffic on nearby busier streets;
  • speed humps, the name for wide, flattened speed bumps to slow traffic;
  • and curb bump-outs  or bulbs that both shorten crossing distances for people on foot and lower traffic speed.

Neighborhood Bikeways are a key part of a community’s low stress traffic network, which is designed to encourage active transportation for people of all ages and abilities. The routes for last year’s Open Streets event on 11th Street and this summer’s event on 27th Street were selected because they are streets identified as having the potential to become future Neighborhood Bikeways. Come find out for yourself when you walk, bike, and play with us on August 19th!

Good Times

Tracy Oulman is the City’s Housing and Neighborhood Coordinator. She rides the same bike she’s had since college and still doesn’t know how to work the gears, but she always uses hand signals.
Giant Scrabble…a flying bicycle carousel…beanbag toss…relays. And some things for the kids to do, too. Open Streets is a great big good time that reminds us how important it is to have fun together.

Open Streets (4 of 19)Have you ever been in the middle of an intense conversation when something funny happens? It’s like a timeout – smiles crack, laughter spreads, the room exhales. It’s a pause that resets the tone and gives us something to share.

totally uncoordinated

Open Streets gives Corvallis a timeout to remember why we love the place we live and have a good time together. Put it on your calendar, tell your friends and family, get up early and host a breakfast before you go. Get ready for an exhale – we are about to have some fun!
Date: August 19, 2018 from 12p – 4p
Route: Cloverland Park to Harding Center
Get Involved! Open Streets takes people power! Intersection superheroes, door hanger distributors, beer garden monitors – opportunities from 1 hour to all day – tell us what you’re up for. Sign-up now and spread the word to everyone you know who might be interested. The more the merrier!

Using Our Streets

Open Streets Corvallis gives you a chance to gain confidence and have fun while family or solo bicycling on Corvallis’ emerging neighborhood bikeways. In anticipation of this year’s event on August 19 between Cloverland Park and Harding Center, we wanted to share a couple of things we do when bicycling around town with our own littles. These are strategies we’ve used to get ourselves safely to a multi-use path, a friend’s house, summer concerts, or Farmers’ Market . . . anywhere, really. Practice getting yourself and your family to Open Streets Corvallis!

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Ride to the left of your child. Keep the youngest riders between yourself and the curb and yourself between traffic and your child. It’s okay to take up space while your kids learn to be predictable riders. (Predictability is so important!) Kids of balance bike age generally don’t have the judgement skills to lead the pack or follow behind an adult. (We’ll talk about riding with a sweep in another post.) Stay close, mama and papa bears. You don’t have to ride single file just yet.

Choose low-stress routes, when possible. It will make it easier to keep your child between you and the curb. For example, traveling south on 14th street may take you multiple entry points on campus, but 15th street has less traffic, more stops that slow everyone down, and ends at a crosswalk that leads to campus. Similarly, 29th may have a bike lane, but 27th can get you to many of the same destinations at a calmer entrance with less traffic on your route. Bonus if you can choose routes with fewer parked cars so you can avoid car doors swinging open.

It’s great practice for taking on busier streets later. And you will.

Sometimes you just don’t know how people-powered-friendly our streets can be until you use them re-imagined in a new way. Find out what we mean: portions of the streets between Cloverland Park and Harding Center are open to non-motorized traffic from 12-4pm on event day, August 19 (allowing for local neighbors to get to and from their homes, of course). You know we’re going to say it: come walk, bike, and play with us!