Open Streets Macon, a biking and pedestrian event series organized by Bike Walk Macon, is hosting its next event on Oct. 24. The event will close off Napier Avenue for pedestrians and bike riders, passing through Napier Heights and Mercer Village.
"Our mission for Bike Walk Macon is leading the movement to make bicycling and walking a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation for all Maconites," said Rachel Umana, the executive director of Bike Walk Macon.
Bike Walk Macon is a local nonprofit whose mission is to help re-imagine Macon's streets as a place for pedestrians and cyclists, not just for cars. Umana has been working in the Macon community on pro-cycling and pedestrian education and legislation with the organization since 2015.
Umana leads a very small team, consisting of herself and her engagement coordinator Koryn Young. They also partner with Mercer students to help them produce promotional content and run their small business. Young's main job is to coordinate events with the local community.
"Open Streets has been a part of Bike Walk Macon for six years," Young said. "Open Streets happens all over the world. It was started in Bogotá, and the idea is that you close down stretches of street."
Young and Umana said they are very excited about their final Open Streets of the year and are hoping it will have a substantial impact beyond the few hours the event is active.
"Not only were we going to the neighborhood and saying, 'hey, let's temporarily reimagine your streets,' we were also able to come up with some resources to permanently improve the street," Umana said.
Open Streets is not the average block party, however. Umana and Young have a vision beyond that afternoon that goes into their event planning at a deeper level.
"Ultimately, our goal of Open Streets is that we want you to see your street as if it could be more welcoming every single day," Umana said. "So, we're trying to get people to imagine if we just take away cars, it doesn't mean that vendors are going to come out, or that the party is going to come out. But you just might feel a little more comfortable with your kid walking to school or your grandma going to the grocery store."
The next Open Streets event will be Oct. 24 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m, starting at Linden Avenue and ending at Pio Nono Avenue. Mercer students who are interested in volunteering can register on BearPulse.