City revs up for day sans Cars

Car Free Day falls on Saturday this year, so instead of seeing people walking to school and biking to work, Ashlanders can expect to see a group of bicyclists on their way from the Plaza to the Heartsong Herbal Brewing Company on Ashland Street.

Ashland City Councilor David Chapman said the morning "cafe rides" have been happening sporadically on Sunday mornings and he and fellow Car Free Day volunteer Egon Dubois have decided to incorporate it into the car free festivities. The ride starts at 9 a.m. at the Plaza on Saturday.

"I'd like to see 50 or 100 people show up," Chapman said. "Depending on who shows up, we'll pick a route. Sometimes we take the alleys through the tree-lined neighborhoods near B Street."

Oak Street between E. Main St. and Lithia Way will be closed off to car traffic from — to 7 p.m., where there will be bike-repair and bike trick demonstrations, as well as an outdoor beer garden sponsored by Standing Stone Brewery.

Another addition to this year's Car Free Day is there will be a public address system on Oak Street to announce when interesting bike activities will be taking place.

"Anyone who has a chain to oil, brakes to adjust or a flat to fix," said Tracy Harding, who has helped organize the last three Car Free Days in Ashland. "We will announce it so anyone who wants to gain those skills can come watch and learn."

Harding remembers, five years ago, when Car Free Day in Ashland was nothing more than free donuts at Triangle Park for bike commuters. It has since become an event that in the past two years has attracted "several hundred" people to the Oak Street activities.

Car Free Day happens all over the world. It began in Europe in 1997, and now takes place in 1,300 cities in 40 different countries.

"Car Free Day is organized to raise awareness of the benefits of biking, walking and transit as positive transportation choices, to challenge our car-dominated society and as a day of celebration for Ashland's many citizens who already choose to drive a car as little as possible," Harding said.

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