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Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

Car-Free OpenStreetsPGH Event to Let Pittsburghers Take Back 4.2 Miles of Road

A major Pittsburgh street will be shut down to cars a few Sundays this summer, but open for parades.

From 8 a.m. to noon on the last Sundays of May, June and July, 4.2 miles of road from Market Square to the Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville along Penn Avenue and Butler Street will be closed off to all motor vehicles and will be open for the public. People are encouraged to walk, run, dance, do yoga, or anything really.

“If you want to drag out a chair and sit on the street and watch people go by that’s fine too, so we just encourage people to come out and enjoy whatever they like enjoying,” said Eve Picker, co-chair of OpenStreetsPGH .

Ultimately OpenStreets wants to make Pittburghers more active and familiar with their surroundings.

“It takes 15 minutes to walk from the Strip to downtown," Picker said. "I think most people would not attempt that under normal conditions. We’re hoping with the street wide open that they will try that 15 minute walk and maybe even go father, then they’ll be willing to try it again.”

Free classes will be conducted on the street for people to learn Zumba, yoga and other physical activities.

Here in Pittsburgh 4.2 miles may seem like a lot of road to shut down traffic, but the event was inspired by Ciclovia, a weekly event in Bogotá, Colombia that closes off nearly 100 miles of road for about 100,000 people to enjoy.

This is the second time the city has held an OpenStreets day. Last year's event attracted 4,000 people, and this year will be even bigger than before. Visit OpenStreets' websitefor volunteer opportunities. 

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.