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  • Santa Maria Open Streets, Calles Vivas Inaugural Event on March 31st

    Santa Maria Open Streets, Calles Vivas
    Inaugural Event
    Sunday, March 31st, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    One mile of Main Street from Broadway to Blosser Road will be 
    closed to traffic and opened up for fun, fitness, and cultural activities for all to enjoy!

    A New Santa Maria Event

    Santa Maria residents won’t have to leave town to enjoy a world-class event this spring. The event is called Santa Maria Open Streets, and it offers a huge array of safe and healthy recreation for all ages, while celebrating community, art, and local businesses. Unlike other events, Open Streets takes place on the street! One mile of Main Street will be free of cars and traffic for a day so the community can explore and have a great time downtown. 

    Open Streets events, also known as Ciclovías, are an exciting new model that cities around the world participate in. Each city offers its own unique event with the shared effect of bringing happiness, health, and fitness to residents in an accessible and safe way on their public streets. Adults and kids alike can bike safely, friends can try out a free Zumba or martial arts class, kids can learn to ride a bike, and maybe grandma and grandpa will dance the Salsa.

    Activities to Expect at Santa Maria Open Streets, Calles Vivas

    There will be a wide range of activities that showcase the wellness and fitness offerings in Santa Maria, including dance, martial arts, Zumba, yoga, a climbing wall, a bike safety rodeo for kids, a non-competitive family foot race, street hockey, fútbol, lawn games, and much more. The community Annual Health Fair will also be hosted at the event, offering free medical screenings, wellness community resources, and a mini Farmers Market. Since this event is on Cesar Chavez Day, there will be a culmination of cultural activities and performances, live music, and social justice causes that celebrate the Latino and Mixtec communities in Santa Maria. A sustainability expo and arts and crafts zone will also be part of the event. Take a peek at some of the planned activities at http://sbopenstreets.org/flyer-map/

    Celebrating Downtown Businesses and Streetscape Improvements

    This event also celebrates Downtown Santa Maria’s West Main Street district, with its popular restaurants and unique businesses. It will be a great way to experience Main Street. “This is the first time Main Street has been opened up in this way,” explains Carlos Escobedo, the Santa Maria Open Streets Coordinator, “the Santa Maria community is so hungry for this kind of community spirited, family friendly event.” Escobedo continues, “What I find most magical about this event is how inclusive it will be. No matter what the activity is, as long as it aims to improve the health and wellness of our community, it has a place at the event.” All the activities will be free to the public, so it will be a great way to have a fun and active day at no cost. The public can also check out demonstrations of possible streetscape improvements, which will be showcased by the City of Santa Maria Planning Department. The improvement ideas hail from the Downtown Streetscape Plan, which was recently approved by the City Council. 

    It’s Safe to Bike, Walk, and Travel Car-Free

    Given the car-free nature of the event, the sponsoring agency, SBCAG Traffic Solutions, is encouraging people to come to the event without a car, by either walking, biking, or taking the bus. Traffic Solutions, the countywide rideshare organization, a division of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), has year-round programs that support biking, walking, carpooling, vanpooling, and taking the train or bus. Kent Epperson, Director of Traffic Solutions, explains, “If you attend the event car-free, you can take the bus back home for free after it’s over.” To ride for free, attendees are invited to pick up a complimentary SMAT or Breeze bus pass at the Traffic Solutions Try Transit booth. On top of that, the Guadalupe Flyer will open its doors for free bus rides on the return trip to Guadalupe.

    One thing that sets this event apart from other street festivals is that it will have a more open feel, giving space for people to play, bike, walk, and connect in the street. The ample space and inherent safety make the event an ideal place to bike. Ken Dahmen, the Operations Manager at Santa Maria Bici Centro, a branch of the Santa Barbara County Bicycle Coalition (aka SBBIKE), is excited to be part of the event. The organization is the non-profit partner of Santa Maria Open Streets, Calles Vivas. “One mile is a large space to cover by foot,” explains Dahmen, “so bringing or riding a bike to the event will enable you to enjoy all of the great activities this event has to offer.”  He goes on to point out that “if you and your family don’t feel comfortable riding bikes in traffic, this is a great way to ride in an environment safe from the moving cars, road noise, and air pollution that normally come with biking on Main Street. Santa Maria Bici Centro will be at the event offering a Bike Loaner Library as well as affordable used bikes to test ride or buy. HOPR, a bike share company operating on the UCSB campus and Isla Vista, will also be at the event to offer test rides of its bikeshare bikes.

    A History of Santa Barbara County Open Streets (http://www.sbopenstreets.org)

    Open Streets initiatives happen all around the world. While each Open Streets event is unique, they all share a common goal of promoting community wellness by creating safe and temporary car-free spaces on streets and roads, opening them up as a public park for a day. Open Streets events were first brought to Santa Barbara County in 2013, when SBCAG Traffic Solutions hosted an event in the City of Santa Barbara, offering more than one hundred free wellness and fitness activities along two miles of Cabrillo Boulevard for a day. Since then, SBCAG Traffic Solutions hosted two more events in Santa Barbara, in 2014 and 2015, and one in Carpinteria in 2017.  Other communities have held similar events, such as Guadalupe’s Ciclovía in 2015, hosted by a coalition of community organizations in Guadalupe, and Lompoc Open Streets in 2017 and 2018, hosted by the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization. Now, for the first time, Santa Maria will have its own Open Streets event on Sunday, March 31, 2019 (Cesar Chavez Day) along a one-mile stretch of Main Street between Broadway and Blosser.

    Get the word out. Visit www.SantaMariaOpenStreets.org, follow us on Facebook at SantaBarbaraOpenStreets and Instagram @SBOpenStreets and #SantaMariaOpenStreets. 

    Most of all, the organizers invite you to come out to enjoy the event. Bring your family, bring your friends, or just come to connect with the broader community. It will be a magical experience not to be missed. If all goes well, SBCAG Traffic Solutions hopes this can become an annual event.

    Santa Maria Open Streets sponsors include the following: The County of Santa Barbara, St. Mary of the Assumption School, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, Santa Barbara County Action Network, Allan Hancock College, the Santa Bonita School District, MindBody, The Fund for Santa Barbara, Tailwinds Bicycle Club, and Coast Hills Credit Union. Media Sponsors include Emerald Wave Media, The Santa Maria Times, and KCOY. A big thank you goes out to the City of Santa Maria and Caltrans for making this event possible. 

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