ITHACA, N.Y. — For a few hours Sunday, streets on Ithaca’s Southside will close to motorized traffic so the community can walk, roll, dance and hang out in the streets.
The 11th Streets Alive! will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. During the event, South Plain Street will be closed from Green Street to Elmira Road, and part of Clinton Street will also be closed.
Streets Alive! has become a twice-yearly Ithaca tradition. It was first created as a slightly radical, but positive way to promote biking and walking as a form of transportation, coordinator Victoria Armstrong said. She is also the program director for Bike Walk Tompkins.
“That was the goal, to sort of transform your understanding of urban space,” Armstrong said.
From there, she said they hoped the initiative would inspire more long-term change to make biking and walking more fun and safe locally, and it did. Bike Walk Tompkins, which pushes for active transportation in Tompkins County, grew out of Streets Alive! and has helped move projects like the bike lane on Cayuga Street forward. Now, Bike Walk Tompkins is working on a bicycle blueprint to create better bicycling conditions locally.
Streets Alive! will be packed with activities for all ages put on by dozens of local organizations and performers. There will be double dutch, Circus Culture, Boy Scouts, the Renovus solar-powered truck for charging up, bike repair, Zumba, activities at Southside Community Center and the Latino Multicultural Festival.
There will be a painting project at Fair and South Titus streets, where community members can go help with a painting by local artist Sean Chilson.
Also, bicyclists timid about using the bike racks on TCAT buses can try it out pressure-free during the event. (For a full list of events, visit Streets Alive!)
Though there are lots of activities, organizers try not to over-schedule or over-control the event. Streets Alive! is meant to become “what the community wants it to be,” Armstrong said.
Behind the scenes making sure everything is safe and running smoothly, there 12 to 15 people closely involved and up to 70 volunteers working on the day of the event. Volunteer applications are still being accepted, and volunteers get a free T-shirt for helping out.
Since Streets Alive! was created in 2012, Armstrong said she has seen more and more groups coming together. When looking back at the initial plan for Streets Alive! she said they have really stuck to their vision.
“It really is what we had intended to make it, a low-key relaxed day for people to meet their neighbors,” Armstrong said.