Thursday, October 8, 2015

What is Open Streets?

In the days following the closure of Center City, Philadelphia there has been a strong sense of euphoria over the sense of freedom that had with car free streets. Much has been made of the great experience that people had and there has been a tremendous rush to replicate this experience again. In the not so distant future. What has not been discussed is what an Open Streets is and how it works.

How prevalent are Open Streets events? They are held in 246 municipalities in Europe, South America, and in 100 U.S. cities last year.

Contrary to what some people may be under the impression, an Open Streets event is not a bicycle specific event. It is intended for pedestrians, runners, and human/muscle powered vehicles. Such as bicycles, rollerblades, and scooters.

The normal layout for a Open Streets event in the United States involves blocking off 3 to 7 miles of a main road to automotive traffic for about 5 hours on a Saturday or Sunday. With the location being cleared of parked cars and multiple cross streets are kept open to allow automotive traffic to move through the city. Along the route there are stages and stations hosting a wide range of activities. Fitness, yoga, dance, and sports classes are offered. Along with music, dance, and theatre performances.

Open Streets origins dates back to 1974 in Columbia, South America. Where Each Sunday and on public holidays from 7 am until 2 pm certain main streets of Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, and other municipalities are blocked off to cars for runners, skaters, and bicyclists. At the same time, stages are set up in city parks. Aerobics instructors, yoga teachers and musicians lead people through various performances. Bogotá's weekly ciclovías are used by approximately 2 million people (about 30% of the population) on 74 miles of car-free streets.

The question that should be asked is, does Philadelphia have the wherewithal to make this a reality? Over the years I have lived in several major cities on the East Coast and Philadelphia never ceases to surprise me. badly. For a major city of its size, Philadelphia residents maintain a small town mentality. Resistant to change and unwilling to make the effort to do so.

While Mayor Nutter is looking into an Open Streets event before his term in office ends and Democratic candidate for Mayor Jim Kenney has expressed an interest in holding one. It remains to be seen if there will  be enough positive public pressure to make Open Streets in Philadelphia a reality.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

I rode to the Spread Bagelry

The great thing about having a bike is that you can decide to go someplace and not have to worry about finding parking or getting stuck in traffic. So I decided to ride to the Spread Bagelry at 262 S. 20th St in Rittenhouse Square.

Bagel baking is a unique process and having spent time working in bagel bakery in my youth I have an intimate knowledge of the process. After a bagel is formed it is boiled in water and then baked in an oven. This gives the bagel a crisp shell and soft interior. It also limits how many bagels can be produced due to the time involved. A shortcut to mass produce bagels involves steaming them instead of boiling. Which produces a bagel that lacks crisp shell and makes it soft throughout. These are not bagels, merely round muffins with a hole in them.

The Spread Bagelry bakes a “Montreal Bagel”. The add honey to the water when boiling the bagels and bake them in a wood fired oven. Their menu has a nice mix of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, along with several custom made spreads. I had a poppy seed bagel with cream cheese, lox, and onion. The bagel came with a sizable portion of cream cheese.

At first glance what really made this bagel stand out was that it was covered in poppy seeds and when I bit into it very few seeds fell off. They continued to stay on bite after bite. With most bagels they usually get a light dusting of poppy seeds and most of them fall off with the first bite. The bagel did have a subtle sweet taste to it.

I brought home two plain and two poppy seed bagels. They traveled well, almost no seeds fell off the two poppy seed bagels. I had my bagel consultant try one of the poppy seed bagels. They to were impressed by how it was covered with poppy seeds and that none of them fell off while they ate it. As well as the subtle, yet sweet taste it had.

If you are looking for really great bagels in the Rittenhouse area, then the Spread Bagelry is the place for you.