“This was the biggest and best event yet, keep them coming,” exclaimed a volunteer. On Sunday, July 31, Eugene Sunday Streets returned to downtown for the second consecutive year. More than 6,000 cyclists, runners, rollers, families, and friends filled the streets to enjoy the largest Eugene Sunday Streets to date. Last year’s downtown event had an estimated 4,000 people, making this a 50% increase in participation.
Although Sunday Streets is acclaimed by many to be the “new Eugene Celebration,” the organization of the event is based out of the Public Works Transportations Options group and includes health focused caveats that supplement its interactive appeal. By closing off two miles of car traffic, participants are encouraged to roll, walk, and stroll the entire route. They’re inspired by tempting activities, interactive vendors, and entertainment and community resources along the way. This is made possible through robust community partnerships. This year PeaceHealth’s Safe Kids joined with Sunday Streets to provide more than 250 helmets to people in need after they rode through the Safe Routes to School traffic safety garden adjacent to Monroe Park.
Eugene Sunday Streets is intended to create lasting changes in how people choose to travel. At last year’s event, more than 74 percent of downtown participants said they would increase their walking or biking because of Sunday Streets.
The route stretched from Monroe Park to Pearl Street and the Park Blocks. Kesey Square housed a blend of traditional Eugene fun with the Slug Queens holding court amidst a DJ dance party, while instructors from Oakway Fitness taught Zumba classes.
Sunday Streets generates excitement, activity and community building. Neighbors along the route came out to play guitar on their front lawns, host lemonade stands and garage sales. “Until today I didn’t know who my neighbor was,” exclaimed a participant on the route.
Local food carts and downtown business owners worked with Sunday Streets to align their annual Sidewalk Sale with the event. This year’s event was also extended to Pearl Street which meant more businesses along the route and drew participants to the Park Blocks. Overall this event surpassed the expectations and goals set within Transportation Options to mobilize the community and generate healthy behavior.
The Transportation Options group will take the lessons learned from the Sunday Streets event, as well as feedback, to prepare for the next Eugene Sunday Streets. It’s scheduled for September 25 in the South University Neighborhood.