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Wednesday February 17th, 2016

Posted at 5:05pm

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Michael Cooke goes over the route for the Open Streets of Windsor event with Pina Ciotoli and Simona Simion.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk the streets of Windsor without having to worry about the constant flow of traffic? To be able to bike down the city streets without the fear of being struck by a vehicle passing by?

City Council has approved for the administration to close an eight-kilometer section of city streets to vehicular traffic, in an effort to allow residents and area businesses to participate in an Open Streets event. On July 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and September 18, there will be a recreational opportunity for people to run, walk, ride a bike, even push a stroller along a route which runs from Mackenzie Hall in Sandwich town through Ford City, using Wyandotte and University Avenue.

“It’s all free of charge and it gives them a chance to explore and experience city streets in a new way,” said Michael Cooke, manager of planning policy with the City of Windsor Planning Department. “Periodically we have what are called ‘hubs’ and in those ‘hubs’ will be focal points for demonstration events or for individuals to participate in anything from a yoga class to maybe a karate class that area businesses will be invited to host and organize. It’s intended to provide an opportunity for people to have that physical activity … There’s no real beginning and end point, people are welcome to jump into the route wherever they’d like.”

The idea was inspired from a non-profit organization out of Toronto called 8 80 cities, which according to their website “improves the quality of life for people in cities by bringing citizens together to enhance mobility and public space so that together we can create more vibrant, healthy, and equitable communities.” According to Cooke, they’ve come down to Windsor previously and offered their assistance in running an Open Streets program in our city.

“As we are preparing our reports to go forward, we thought ‘let’s talk to those business communities,’” said Cooke. “They’ve indicated through our correspondence with them, even if they’re a business that’s not typically open on a Sunday morning from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., they’ll make a point of opening up their doors on these dates so as participants are going down through the route they’ll be able to stop as establishments and grab a coffee, or if it’s a local bike shop, perhaps do some shopping, whatever the type of service is provided. It’s really just been a very positive thing from the business community, since we’ll have people walking by those front doors, or riding a bike, jogging … that wouldn’t normally be there so they invite that opportunity for any business to show off what they’ve got.”

At this point, Cooke said they’re not only looking for people to come out an enjoy the event, but also for businesses to volunteer to provide services as well as volunteers to help run the events. Cooke said they’ve even partnered with the Health Unit who is very excited about assisting them in setting up a booth to education participants on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

For those who are interested in coming out and seeing a little bit more about the route and the information that’s being shown, but couldn’t make it out to the open house event Feb. 17, 3-1-1 is available for additional information as well on the city of Windsor’s website.

“What makes it unique is, it’ll run through so many neighborhoods and business communities along the way,” said Cooke. “So whether somebody is just interested in doing a few blocks of it, or the full length, they’ll have that opportunity to really see and experience these activity hubs along the way and to participate in events they may not normally … I’m very excited to know that the city is on board. A tremendous amount of work goes into organizing an event like this, but it’s very exciting to know that we can showcase parts of our city in this way and provide an opportunity.”

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