Open Streets Events Open up the Possibility of Cleaner Mobility Options   

The MSRC’s mission lies not only in funding clean transportation projects but also investing in projects that foster clean mobility. Advancing clean transportation initiatives is important, however; this won’t mean much if we are all stuck in traffic riding in our clean vehicles. So, the MSRC encourages innovative projects that are designed to both reduce emissions and expose people to alternative ways of getting around that might not include a vehicle at all. For example, the MSRC is supporting innovative strategies that get people out of their single passenger vehicles and into more creative modes of transportation. “Open Streets/Complete Streets” events are a fun way to introduce people to new ways to travel.  

Open Streets events temporarily close normally busy streets to motor vehicle traffic in order to encourage active transportation modes such as bicycling and walking as a better and cleaner way to get around. Over the past few years, the MSRC has helped fund many Open Streets experiences in partnership with the Go Human campaign from the Southern California Associations of Governments (SCAG). This campaign encourages Southern California residents to use human-powered transportation to change how people think about others on the roads we all share.   

These community events both expose people to cleaner transportation options and get thousands of residents to experience a different view of their city that they can’t experience by car while connecting with members of their community. They often include art, music, food and other festivities that make the alternative transportation events even more entertaining and fun experiences that fosters greater support for more permanent re-imagined public spaces and transportation solutions. 

Several MSRC co-funded events have been held in San Bernardino County including:  

  • Re-Imagine Downtown (City of Ontario) – held at the Ontario Town Square on Euclid Avenue, this event featured several potential street improvements including: a buffered bike lane, which creates more space between bicyclists and vehicles allowing more room for bicyclists to ride safely; a “parklet,” or tiny street plaza, which extends the sidewalk to create more space to eat, relax and hang out; and corner bulb-outs, which extend the curb into the street, so the distance to cross is shorter and people are more visible to vehicles.  

  • Open Streets RC (City of Rancho Cucamonga) – held on Town Center Drive between Terra Vista Parkway and Spruce Avenue, this event let people experience a preview of street improvements that the city was planning to make walking and biking in the community safer and more enjoyable.   

  • Right on Rialto (City of Rialto) – held at Willow and Rialto Avenues, this event demonstrated striped bike lanes, a traffic circle and crosswalk improvements designed to make active transportation safer.  

  • Sunset on Sierra (City of Fontana) – held between Seville Avenue and Orange Way, this event showcased temporary improvement projects such as a cycle track, pedestrian sidewalk bump-outs, and a round-about. Additionally, information about bikesharing and the City’s Active Transportation Plan was made available to participants.  

According to Josh Lee, Chief of Planning at the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, nearly 20,000 people attended these outings. He thinks these events are important to help improve air quality in local communities. “By advertising and letting residents know that we are committed to delivering active transportation projects in the region, the number of active transportation users will grow. More active transportation users also means decreased VMT for the area which will improve the air quality of our region.” He said that most of the public comments they heard were positive toward implementing active transportation elements in their respective cities. In fact, the feedback they received has been used to apply for the state’s Active Transportation Program Cycle 4 grants and in other active transportation planning documents in the county.  

In Orange County, the MSRC co-sponsored these events:  

  • Connect the Loop (Yorba Linda) – held on the Fairmont Connector and Fairmont Boulevard, this event helped show off the planned bike lanes to connect the OC Loop, a 66-mile network of trails around Orange County that lets residents get from the ocean to the interior.  

  • Experience the Tracks (City of Brea) – held between Brea Boulevard and State College Boulevard, this event allowed residents to experience the new shared-use bicycle and pedestrian path along this route, and to learn about the new projects the City was undertaking to make it easier to bike and walk.  

  • Re:Imagine Garden Grove (City of Garden Grove) – held along West Street, Garden Grove Boulevard, Acacia Parkway and Main Street, this event enabled residents to enjoy 2.5 miles of open road where pedestrians and cyclists could experience the City car-free.  

  • Experience Hoover (City of Westminster) – held on Hoover Street, this event was held to celebrate the completion of the Hoover Street Phase I Project, a city-funded street beautification project that included improvements such as a new pedestrian path, natural landscaping and street lighting. The event was designed to demonstrate the concept of a complete streets project, reducing the number of vehicle lanes, deploying an on-street, two-way cycle track to the main corridor, as well as to showcase potential improvements to the community with temporary installations.  

Tuan Richardson from the Orange County Parks Planning and Design Division, which was lead organizer of the Connect the Loop event, was excited to demonstrate innovative mobility ideas to neighboring cities at their event. “We provided local community residents an opportunity to physically experience a proposed off-street bicycling or walking route connecting to their favorite trails and destinations without relying on their motorized vehicles,” he commented. These kinds of demonstrations gave locals the chance to see what safer streets can look like, provide feedback on the improvements, and ultimately encourage them to walk and bike more. In fact, a survey of nearly 500 participants in the Orange County events showed that more than 40 percent got there by alternative modes of transportation (walking, biking or riding transit).  

The MSRC helped fund these events in Riverside County:  

  • Go Human at Riverside Arts Walk (City of Riverside) – held in the Downtown area  during the downtown monthly Arts Walk, this event demonstrated a diagonal crosswalk and new pedestrian signal timing at several busy intersections, as well as corner sidewalk extensions, all to improve pedestrian safety and convenience.   

  • Vision San Pablo (Palm Desert) – held along a mile-long stretch of the San Pablo Avenue corridor, this event introduced residents to the “road-diet” concept, enhanced walkways and buffered bike lanes.  

Bringing people together and opening up communities to new transportation options is what Open Streets is all about, and the MSRC has been proud to partner with local communities on these events.