ITHACA, N.Y. — Walk, run or bike — just don’t drive — to the 14th Streets Alive! on April 28 in Fall Creek.
From 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 28, Cayuga Street at Ithaca High School to Court Street and Court Street to the Greater Ithaca Activities Center will be closed to motorized vehicles to make way for people to walk, bike, dance and enjoy the space.
Bike Walk Tompkins, the lead organizer of the event, focuses on promoting “active transportation,” such as biking and walking, in the Tompkins County area. Victoria Armstrong, the director of Bike Walk Tompkins, said the event provides an opportunity for attendees to meet their neighbors and engage with the community in a way that’s not always possible on a typical day.
“People come out and they’re like ‘Oh I can hang out. I can meet my neighbors.’ People are always just sort of in conversation,” Armstrong said.
Bike Walk Tompkins was born out of organizing for the first Streets Alive! event back in 2012.
“Over time, there was a group of engaged professionals who really wanted it to become a more positive community building approach to using bikes as a form of transportation,” Armstrong said. “There was also this desire to make up an organization or entity that would focus solely as a nonprofit- be a voice for making bicycling and walking seen as real forms of transportation and accommodating that.”
This year, a few thousand people are expected to attend Streets Alive! According to Armstrong, a core of 15 volunteers really make the event happen. Additionally, there are around 70 volunteers that help out on the day of. Some of these are college students from the local universities, which Armstrong said is a nice way for folks to get to know the community and for the community to get to know college students.
Volunteers for this year’s event are still needed.
“The primary role (of a volunteer) is to be an ‘intersection superhero,’ to just be there, make sure that the road is free for 2-year-olds and 4-year-olds and their parents, and people just hanging out, to be completely free of motorized vehicles,” Armstrong said.
The event will be full of family-friendly fun, including the Youth Bureau bike rodeo, Circus Culture at Ithaca High School and the GIAC Jumpers, Beats Alive! and Cultura’s Cinco de Mayo Festival at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. There will also be a bike mechanic, food trucks at Thompson Park and an additional 12 to 13 activities along the route.
“We continue to do the Streets Alive! event because people want us to,” Armstrong said. “It’s light, it’s fun, but it’s also remarkable to see how much space in our community is devoted to travel and primarily motorized travel, which is necessary, but it helps us rethink how we’ve chosen to use this space and could we choose differently.”
Armstrong said that the underlying ethos of the event is that there’s a lot of people who would be biking or walking if they felt safer. “What would it take to make it feel safer 365 days a year?”
The event takes place twice a year — in the Fall Creek neighborhood in the spring and in Ithaca’s Southside neighborhood in the Fall. Learn more here.