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Despite predictions of apocalyptic traffic in Corvallis this weekend, it was in fact the streets with no cars on them that seemed busiest.

Sunday’s Open Streets Corvallis had more than the 1,000 people for which its organizers had planned, said Ilene McClelland, who coordinated the event. 

The event, in its first year, closed down sections of Northwest 11th Street and Northwest Taylor Avenue connecting Franklin Square Park to Garfield Elementary School, with music, food and activities at both ends and along the streets between.

McClelland, who works for the Corvallis Bicycle Collective, said the event was intended to build community and get people interested in biking not through lecturing, but by providing a chance for people to have fun.

“Open Streets is about bringing neighbors and neighborhoods together through physical activity,” she said.

McClelland said she was pleased with the turnout for the event and is already working on a committee for next year’s event, which she hopes will be in South Corvallis. Her plan for the event is to rotate it throughout Corvallis so other neighborhoods get a chance to connect.

McClelland said she personally doesn’t like riding her bike on busy roads, so she hopes the event can show the potential for a bicycle greenway in Corvallis.

Jennifer Logan, a Corvallis resident who visited the event on her bike, said she’s heard about bike highways in the Netherlands and she’d like to see something similar in Corvallis.

Logan, 30, said she hadn’t ridden a bike since she was in middle school until about a month ago when she bought a bike. Because she is a newer rider, she said, it was nice to ride on roads without cars.

She added that she believes bicycling is an important activity to promote and having streets free of cars was great.

“It’s fun to see so many people out and about enjoying it,” she said.

Jeff Schroeder, of San Jose, California, visited Open Streets while in Corvallis to visit family and see the eclipse.

He said he’d attended similar events at home.

“An event like this is a good way for the community to meet each other,” he said.

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Anthony Rimel covers education and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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