Open Streets Manatee event in Palmetto on Nov. 10
Music, activities, food vendors, guided bike tours and more
By CARL MARIO NUDI
Many in the Millennial Generation have expressed a desire to live in an urban area where work, shopping and entertainment are within walking distance of where they live.
Millennials, defined as those born between 1980 to 1995, also say they want a safe, walkable urban environment for those activities.
A team of Manatee County workers known as the Manatee Millennial Movement, or M3, have organized and planned Open Streets Manatee to highlight the possibilities of creating such an environment.
The event will transform three blocks of 10th Avenue West in Palmetto on Nov. 10 into a car free, fun zone for the family.
“This Open Streets Manatee event will make people more aware that streets are more than just for cars,” said Chris Speese, Manatee County Public Works Department Mobility coordinator and a member of the M3 planning team.
Madison Moyer, Transportation Systems Compliance Coordinator in the county public works department, said the 10th Avenue West venue in Palmetto was picked because Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has a plan to convert the corridor into a Complete Street project.
“The FDOT will be at the event to educate the visitors about the project with concept drawings and maps,” said Moyer, planning lead for the Open Streets Manatee event.
The state transportation agency’s Complete Streets project will develop a mixed-user corridor for cyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, motorists and delivery vehicles.
“Palmetto is the best place to have (this event) because of our Complete Streets project,” Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said. “This is a great opportunity for all of Manatee County to see what FDOT has decided to have for state roads.
“And FDOT will have people there to explain what they plan to do (along the 10th Avenue West corridor) and our Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will have display boards showing what it could look like,” Bryant said.
During the Open Streets Manatee event 10th Avenue West will be closed to motorized vehicles from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. between Fourth and Seventh streets west.
Many of the local businesses and public facilities along the street will be open during the event, such as the restaurants, shops, art galleries and the Palmetto Library.
The day will be filled with activities for all ages, including music; food vendors; Pilates, yoga, and Zumba demonstrations; art installations; guided bicycle tours; and a bicycle rodeo.
The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, United Way Suncoast, Florida Health, Pickle Juice Power, and Kotis Design are sponsors of the event, along with Manatee County, the City of Palmetto and FDOT.
Also, Tropicana will be there giving out orange juice, and Detwiler’s Farm Market will have fresh fruit available.
There will be hydration stations with water and healthy snacks located along the street to make sure everyone has enough water and energy to enjoy the activities.
The Friends of the Palmetto Library will have a book sale, and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) will have a bike registration booth.
“Registration helps reduce bike theft,” Moyer said. “The MCSO also will provide cycling education.”
At the bike rodeo, the Sarasota Manatee Bike Club will have a trailer full of bikes for children to use.
The cycling group will teach rodeo participants how to ride a bicycle, offer safety tips, ride an obstacle course, and how to use proper hand signals.
The Sarasota Manatee Bike Club also will have a bike ride from 10th Avenue West to Emerson Point and back, and everyone is invited to ride along.
There also will be a route along part of the trail system planned for Palmetto and Manatee County for cyclists who want a shorter ride.
A national organization, Safe Route to School, gave Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg a grant to provide about 300 bike helmets to give away free at the event.
A trained, registered specialist will individually fit the helmets.
“Also, we are having what we call Scavenger Hunt Bingo, where the children go to all the booths to learn a safety tip,” Moyer said. “When they return their filled-out card they will be eligible for a raffle for one of six bicycles, a lock and helmet.”
And, she said, Jurassic Martial Arts and Fitness will have demonstrations during the event.
The Manatee County School District team of senior technology students who won third place in an international competition in Singapore will be on hand to demonstrate their miniature Formula One car.
Students in the Palmetto High School agriculture program will bring some of the animals they are raising.
There will be plenty of parking on the former site of Palmetto Elementary School northeast of Sutton Park.
Open Streets Manatee was fashioned somewhat after Cyclovia, a popular event that began in Bogota, Colombia, Moyer said.
Major city streets in that South American city are temporarily closed every Sunday and repurposed into safe and open, car-free environments.
“It was a movement to take back the streets to use as public space,” Moyer said.
The county M3 team wanted to create a sense of community and place while showcasing the topic of mobility, an important issue for many millennials, she said.
M3 is about living close to where you work, shop and play, said Ogden Clark, Ambassador Program coordinator for the Neighborhood Connections Division of the Manatee County Neighborhood Services Department.
“Palmetto is unique because there are nearby neighborhoods surrounding their business district on 10th Avenue West.” said Clark, who is also an M3 Team member.
For Speese, who is also a millennial, mobility issues are more than just his job.
“Mobility is getting away from thinking of having to use a car for all your transportation needs, such as to go shopping or to commute to work,” he said. “Mobility is being able to get somewhere without a car, (or at least) to have a choice.
“Right now there are not a lot of options,” Speese said.
The lack of adequate sidewalks, no bike lanes, and mass transit options create the need for an automobile.
The Complete Street project will address these problems.
And the M3 Team hope the Open Streets Manatee event will highlight the issue.
“Open streets are important to take back the street and convey the idea that vehicles are not the only users of the road,” Moyer said. “And the Open Streets Manatee event is a good way to educate people about that.”
For more information about the Open Streets Manatee event, visit the website at www. openstreetsmanatee.com, or follow the M3 Team social media posts on Twitter at #osmpalmetto18 and Facebook at bit.ly/osmpalmetto18.
Email Madison Moyer at Madison.email@example.com for more information.