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A Mile Without Cars: Magnolia Avenue Blooms at Open Streets  
Knoxville’s fourth Open Streets transformed a mile of Magnolia Avenue into an open arena for pedestrians, bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, puppies and puppets—but absolutely no automobiles. 

That’s the beauty of Open Streets Knoxville, which, on three occasions in the past two years, has closed traffic on stretches of Central Avenue and Kingston Pike in Bearden for a few hours, allowing all manner of activities in a space usually reserved for motor vehicles. 

At a human-powered speed, participants come face to face with a street’s character without the barrier of a windshield: the architecture of businesses and homes, both occupied and vacant; the trees, bushes and flowers that grow both intentionally and unbidden; the textures and details that can’t be enjoyed at 40 miles per hour. 
And the street itself—five whole lanes and wide shoulders with bike lanes, in the case of Magnolia—becomes an open playground.

Magnolia Open Streets

“Magnolia Avenue is wide and flat, and it has a grandeur about it,” says Open Streets coordinator Lindsay Kimble. “It has a lot of potential and growth opportunity.  So much can be done to make it really pedestrian and bike friendly and a place the East Knoxville community is proud of.”

As the event's 2 p.m. start time neared and the light drizzle waned, Cattywampus Puppet Council launched the Appalachian Puppet Parade on a trajectory from Chestnut to Randolph. A whimsical array of characters strode down the mile of asphalt: a large brown bear, a red-headed woodpecker, a deer, a goat with a frilly collar, a wolf in a dandy red coat and dozens of other creatures. A small band of a penny whistle, horns and drums set the pace. 

Guests were invited to visit various tents hosted by community groups to play Frisbee golf, corn hole, ring toss and even try their jumping skills with Learnin’ the Ropes. 

Jump Rope Open Streets

In addition to games, Open Streets attendees could visit with community organizations and learn about what they do. The Knoxville Botanical Garden gave away tomato and strawberry plants. Knoxville Urban League challenged all comers to play a ring toss game and spin a wheel for a prize. Nourish Knoxville led a workshop in making totes out of old t-shirts. Gold Sponsor AA Air brought their mini-Cooper pick-up truck and challenged kids to a ninja obstacle course.  Dream Bikes Knox brought bicycles for guests to test drive. And Urban Town Chess hosted several games, including an over-sized board and pieces. 

Urban Town Chess at Open Streets

Food vendors spread across the course, with the flavored ice truck drawing a crowd as the sun warmed the air. 

Flavored Ice Truck at Open Streets

Kimble estimates that about 2,000 people visited Open Streets from 2-6 p.m. The forecast for rain dampened the anticipated crowd, but the weather turned out to be perfect for a stroll down one of Knoxville’s most majestic corridors. 

If you attended Open Streets, please answer this short survey for the event's organizer Bike Walk Knoxville. You can also read their latest newsletter and sign up to receive them. 

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Posted by ptravis On 23 May, 2017 at 3:02 PM