Play Streets® comes to Buffalo

How many times were you told “Don’t play in the street!” when you were little? Well, these days there’s another message being passed along to youngsters. If the conditions are right, we should be encouraging young people to play in the streets. In order to create those perfect conditions, Blue Cross/Blue Shield has teamed up with GO Bike Buffalo, the City of Buffalo and the Common Council in order to apply for and competitively win a $50,000 grant that will bring community locations called Play Streets® to Buffalo. Buffalo was one of only ten cities nationally that was awarded the distinction to be able to move forward with the healthy living initiative to help prevent childhood obesity. 

The way the initiative works is that from May through September, one weekend day is chosen where neighborhood children will be able to safely play in designated streets for a few hours at a time. Along with encouraging activities such as dancing and bike riding, a number of programmed initiatives will be added to enhance the experience, ranging from live music to farm stands with locally grown produce. While similar concepts have sprouted in other cities (such as Open Streets), this is the first time anything like this has transpired aside from block club parties, which don’t often promote activities other than eating, drinking and socializing.
The first Play Streets® have yet to be identified, but organizers are saying that they will be spread throughout the city and will likely be in close proximity to major parks. ”With our commitment to improving the health of our community, BlueCross BlueShield is excited to work with the City of Buffalo and GObike to host Play Streets® – events that encourage individuals and families to play and be active,” said Alphonso O’Neil-White, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York.  ”Our Healthy Changes Everything brand platform solidifies the company’s promise to help those in the community live healthier, happier lives.  BlueCross BlueShield sees Play Streets® as a transformative program that will improve the health of our region and inspire people to make healthy choices.”
If there’s anyone who deserves the recognition for helping to pull these sorts of street-bound initiatives together, it’s GO Bike Buffalo Executive Director Justin Booth. ”This is exactly the sort of program that GObike Buffalo is all about,” said Justin. “The grant we won will not only help promote walking and cycling this coming summer, but hopefully plant the seeds for expanded and more frequent Play Streets® in years to come.”
Also spearheading the initiative is Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), along with block club associations, community groups and Buffalo Promise Neighborhood organizers. Other cities that have opened their streets to the residents have found that outdoor activities are on the rise and healthier children are the result. Often times the programs are so successful that more streets are added, or hours are extended. ”Today in America, one in five kids doesn’t have access to a playground – that’s millions of children who can’t pick up a ball, run outside or have fun in a safe environment,” said PHA President and CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “We’re thrilled that BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, GObike Buffalo and the City of Buffalo are proactively tackling this challenge by creating new Play Streets®. We can’t wait to see the initiative in action – to see kids running around these new spaces and to hear sounds of traffic replaced by sounds of kids at play.”
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About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

9 comments
ablejack
ablejack

During the summer, the city of Philadelphia closes streets weekly (along the Schuylkill) for cyclists. This makes an eight mile loop of traffic free roads. This is especially nice for peleton riders who come out in great numbers each Sunday. I don't see random streets around town being especially good for athletic cycling, especially if there would be children playing on them. Of course I'd be willing to parade around these streets on a bike for the fun of it! I'd even encourage my little bicycle following (BLRC) to join in and wear silly "Play Streets" T-shirts.

JSmith
JSmith

"Would you be willing", that should read.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/TWGkWhYFn5tniXwHgo1ReDBvn6m
https://me.yahoo.com/a/TWGkWhYFn5tniXwHgo1ReDBvn6m

What is the point of this? Where does $50,000 go? Designated streets, once a month, for a couple of hours? Playing in the street is free. Whatever happened to yelling "car!" and moving your toys?

JSmith
JSmith

Would mind be willing to reveal the street name? As my son gets older we are considering moving to a neighborhood with more children where he could play outside and have others to play with. We like our current North Buffalo neighborhood in most aspects, but there is a real lack of children playing on our block.

grad94
grad94

for what it's worth, on my block, the kids take over the street for ball games all the time, without waiting for adult management or grant funding. warms my heart!

65oceandrive
65oceandrive

This program is a wonderful way to rethink streets as community space rather than areas of danger designated to autos. Streets are spaces that impact every single person in this country. In many communities the street literally is the Park. I agree that selecting streets in areas of high concentrations of young people, regardless if there is a nearby park is a great way to go. We did a park project that "popped up" on a vacant lot last year and it changed how the kids and families looked at that corner lot. It became a place to laugh and play.

bung
bung

“Hey kid, why you don’t go play in traffic”. That’s what my parents use to say to me when I was doing something stupid. This sounds stupid. Is this going to be sponsored by Allstate or Geico for the property damage from footballs, baseballs etc. You know all you will get is “My kids wouldn’t do anything like that. They have a RIGHT to be there”. Maybe we could have a kid’s day in the park? If you don’t live near a park, parents could walk them to the park. In the process they could teach them how to properly walk on the sidewalk and cross the street.

grad94
grad94

good grantwriters at go bike!

picking streets near parks is good. picking streets that have high concentrations of children under 16, as identified by census reports, is even better. no use picking a nice street near a park that has mainly dinks (double-income-no-kids) living on it.

JSmith
JSmith

Fantastic! Congratulations and thank you to GO Bike Buffalo and everyone else involved in making this happen!

Retake the streets! (And hopefully this will encourage the kids and their parents to get them out on the sidewalks and lawns more often on the other days of the week.)

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