I’m preparing for the Car-Free Cities conference in Portland all this week. Given current events, it should be quite a gab-fest. What were once fringe issues and ideas have moved to centre stage, and will be taken with a new seriousness.
So, what could be more appropriate to fill in the week when I’ll be gone than some pics of the Car-Free City celebration in the West End last Sunday.
Denman Street was just one four streets closed to traffic, including parts of Commercial Drive, Main Street and numerous blocks in Kitsilano. The sun sure helped to put everyone in a good mood, but the unquestioned success of the occasion is just another indication that our city has had a change of attitude. We’re ready to think differently about how we use our roads. They’re not just for moving traffic.
They’re also for singing.
Even square dancing.
Local merchants and restaurants spilled out onto the asphalt to display their wares, serve their food and make more moolah than they ever could when the street was full of traffic. All except the gas station.
But this was my favourite entrepreneur.
The entertainment was great – particularly the chance to hear some local bands. But the best enterainment was, as usual, people watching and checking out the scene.
A chance, above all, to see ourselves. The West End is full of the most eclectic mix of people.
And this event was for us – the West End for West Enders. As much as we may enjoy (or not) the closure of West End streets for fireworks and races, we don’t often get to use our own spaces just for us. Today we did.
Thanks, of course, to local organizers and volunteers, the city staff and police. It really was well organized. But special acknowledgement must go to the inspiration for Car-Free Days – Carmen Mills.
No matter how great the resistence or oblivious our leaders, Carmen has always believed that society was ready to move towards real sustainability. This time she may be right.
See you next week.