‘The party that everyone attends’… on the highway

30 years ago, some creative minds in Bogota, Colombia launched an experiment where city streets were closed to cars on one day to allow pedestrians and bicyclists their own place. The crowds came and defined the experiment as a vibrant scene they wanted permanent, and today it’s not only permanent, but this experiment known as ‘Ciclovia’ (Spanish for ‘bike way’) is now a community of two million people every Sunday, with a crowdsourced ‘main street’ of activities over several miles.

While many people have heard of this wildly popular event totaling 70 miles of car-free streets from 7 am to 2 pm, one thing missing was a concise documentary to assist city officials in not only understanding how it works, but motivating them to raise the bar for their own Ciclovia. Thanks to here.

Some of the highlights:
– An entertainment area, the Reclovia, with 20 stages of free dance (ie rhumba) and aerobics classes. I would hope El Paso has these as well :) Of course, there are food and drink vendors everywhere.
– The founding organizing team for Ciclovia, expecting 200 resumes, received only 20 rwhen they first advertised for Ciclovia volunteers. Because Columbia at the time was so enraptured with Baywatch, they promoted ‘Bikewatch’ during the program and attracted 1500 resumes. Who knew Baywatch would help improve quality of life in cities?
– In addition to a dozen Latin American cities, Paris, Ottawa and El Paso, Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, Portland, and New York are considering the Ciclovia. Organizers there should watch this video with potential supporters.
– A resident quote, “The Ciclovia is marvelous. It is the best thing to come to Colombia.”

In the end, it’s probably best to just go ahead and hire Gil Peñalosa, Executive Director of Walk and Bike for Life (not sure if that’s even possible, but it would be a coup). His impassioned statement in the video, which sums it up quite nicely:

“The obesity rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed. Almost every state has obesity, not overweight, obesity. And how else can you get thousands and thousands of people doing physical activity. So then, the infrastructure is there, it’s free. The roads are already there. All you gotta do is close it. You need operation and cost to set it up, and then you can get this fantastic idea which is like a party that everyone attends.

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