Sun-loving Calgarians took back the street yesterday amid complaints that a festival that bottlenecked Memorial Drive shouldn’t have included a partial road closure.

Thousands of people flocked to the first Bow River Flow, an event that included a controversial closure of half the busy east-west artery between 10 Street and 3 Street N.W.

Nancy Chisnall and Barbara Tate both live near Memorial Drive and questioned organizers about the need to shut down the thoroughfare when most festival goers stuck to the pathway where the majority of stalls and events were held.

“My biggest concern is how a group of people and the area alderman can organize an event like this without engaging the residents who will be the most affected,” said Tate, noting numerous vehicles were shortcutting through nearby Sunnyside to avoid traffic tie-ups on Memorial.

Chisnall added the idea has potential but the event should have been limited to the pathway or the nearby community and left the busy road open for traffic.

“Nobody’s on the road and everybody’s on the pathway so why did we have to shut down Memorial?” she asked.

Despite a noticeable lack of pedestrians on the closed portion of Memorial Drive, organizer Gerald Wheatley said he was happy to see such a large turnout and took issue with the notion that no one was taking advantage of the open street.

“It was essential to shut down Memorial Drive because we’re seeing thousands of people here supporting alternate forms of transportation,” he said.

Area Ald. Druh Farrell dismissed the notion that with the majority of people sticking to the pathway, the closure of Memorial was unnecessary.

“People are using both (the road and pathway) and this is only the first year and festivals like this grow exponentially,” she said.

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