Sunday Streets v.2; and some thoughts on low-level anxiety

I’m happy to learn that the afternoon of car-free streets — known as Sunday Streets — is coming back next summer. But before I get to that, I need to tell you a story.

My daughter somehow acquired a betta fish for her fifth birthday.

Here is what a betta fish looks like.

Don’t be fooled by its exotic beauty. A betta fish is sometimes known as a “Siamese fighting fish” — which sounds dangerous for a 5-year-old, but I don’t like to be the overprotective sort of parent.

We set the fish bowl on my daughter’s dresser. The dresser has a mirror behind it. Luckily, we happened to pick up a book about betta fish at the library, and we learned, among other things, that bettas should not be placed in front of a mirror. It may make them think they are in the presence of a second Siamese fighting fish.

This causes their fighting instinct to kick in and leaves them living in a constant state of heightened anxiety.

Much like riding a bike around town.

Which brings us back to Sunday Streets. Sunday Streets is when the city closes a stretch of city roads to cars (for a few short hours) and lets pedestrians and cyclists and dogs and whatever else roam free on the asphalt.

Perhaps you remember Eugene’s first Sunday Streets event this past September? Was it fun, you ask? What do you mean, was it fun? You remember this guy?

But something happened at Sunday Streets that I did not expect. The simple absence of cars made me aware that I do experience a state of low-level stress whenever I ride around on city streets. I don’t think I had even realized this until I found myself freed from it. With cars removed, I had to keep reminding myself not to be constantly checking over my shoulder or listening for the buzz of big 4×4 tires coming up behind me.

And I realized how our betta fish must have felt when we finally took him away from the mirror.

Anyway, the second Sunday Streets event is being planned for next Sept. 9. (See, we finally got the point!)

Last summer, the route was along Fifth Avenue, past Skinner Butte Park, into the Whiteaker neighborhood. This coming summer, Sunday Streets will head to the south university/Amazon area. Here’s a map of the proposed route:

Thanks to Shane McRhodes for the photo.

In the northeast-most corner, we are at 19th and Agate, i.e. Prince Pucklers and 19th Street McMenimen’s, etc. It goes west on 19th, down the ritzy stretch of University Street to University City Park, across 23rd and 24th to Hilyard, etc. You can figure it out.

13 thoughts on “Sunday Streets v.2; and some thoughts on low-level anxiety

  1. Sunday Streets sounds like heaven. It would be nice if every Sunday the roads were car free. I also am anxious when riding on our tiny bendy lanes in England. I am always aware that the driver coming up behind me (we have 4×4’s in the country here too) may just be, looking at his/her phone, changing the radio station or eating something and not notice the cyclist in front.

  2. I visited the Sunday Streets last year, and you’re right – it was incredibly relaxing not to have to be constantly alert for automobile traffic. And to have so much space! And the quiet! It was great. We live just outside last year’s perimeter, though, and I was highly entertained (and alarmed and surprised and a bit irritated) by the anger demonstrated by many of the diverted drivers – squealing turns, screaming down residential streets. I had been hoping they’d do the Sunday streets more, more than one neighborhood a year, so that some of us could enjoy it more, and some of us could get used to it. I like one a month….

    1. I totally agree that more than once a year is sorely needed to help get drivers used to the idea and to get more people out more often!

  3. Thank you Eugene Bicyclist. That was profound in a very simple and direct way. Huh, I never thought about it that way. Low level stress. But it rings true. Again, thank you.

  4. Hello All! Us here at the City of Eugene are so excited to be planning the 2nd annual Eugene Sunday Streets event. We are still in the early planning phases and the route pictured on the blog is not final. We still need to work with the businesses along the route to make sure it will work for them as well. We wish we could offer more than one event per year but at this time we do not have the funding to do so. We hope that as the event grows year after year we will be able to grow our partnerships with the community to bring greater outside funding. Closing almost 3 miles of streets is actually quite a bit of work that requires over 200 volunteers, hundreds of staff hours and lots of supplies and traffic control. Please stay tuned for opportunities to donate and volunteer coming soon. As for the angry motorists, we will continue to get better each year at planning better detours. If anyone is interested in helping with the 2012 Sunday Streets event or has any more questions or comments please contact me at the email below!

    Lindsay Selser
    City of Eugene – Transportation Options Coordinator

  5. That’s a pretty big hill on University, from 23rd up to 19th, and then from University to Onyx. Maybe most people’s little kids are tougher than mine, but we would have to shortcut that part of the route. I sent a note to Lindsay with a suggestion for an alternate route.

    Hooray for stopping at Prince Puckler’s! Maybe Obama will be there on the campaign trail again.

  6. We’re on top of it! There is already a shortcut/shorter route for those that can’t make the hill. The route map that was posted is really quite basic so you can’t see all the details. When the route is finalized we will release a map to the public. THANKS!

    1. Yeah, I enjoy making things public before they are supposed to be made public.

      Anyway, thanks for pitching in here, Lindsay.

      Don’t worry too much, though, because I think the “public” here at Eugene Bicyclist is not extremely large in terms of quantity. (Although I for one think “the public” here is pretty great in terms of quality.)

  7. Thats a great looking route!

    I think mostly residential with moments of commercial makes it very pleasant. Plus it creates more opportunities for kids to have lemonade stands and bands to play in people’s front yards and stuff.

  8. Now that you mention it, I too have that “always looking over my shoulder ” feeling when pedaling my pedicab around town. The stress is even more pronounced with elderly and very young children on board.

    In Chico, CA, the streets around the university are closed to vehicular traffic on Friday and Saturday nights, making pedicabs a welcomed addition to the neighborhood. I’m sure this policy had something to do with the number of DUIs handed out. Reminds me of the unfortunate accident recently in Eugene where a cyclist was killed after leaving a party.

  9. I’m so glad I found your blog! I haven’t ridden a bicycle in years but I am attempting to get back on two wheels. I’m a little apprehensive with all the downtown traffic but I’m determined! Thank you, I can’t wait to read more!

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