What is Ciclovia?

On a recent Sunday afternoon, while walking around Santiago, Chile I came across the Avenue Providencia.  Normally, this main thoroughfare bustles with cars, but this day it was teaming with bikers, runners, and roller bladers.  As a result kids and adults, alike, were enjoying the car-free street and having fun in the outdoors.  Little did I know, this take back of the streets relates back over 4 decades to Bogota and Ciclovia.

Ciclovia, a Spanish word that translates to “bike-way” began in Bogota, Columbia over 40 years ago.  The creators were a group of young, free-thinking, Columbian idealists.  Because of this they wanted to discuss and combat the rapid urban development of Bogota.  Since they were fed up with the influx of cars in the city center, the creators of Ciclovia wanted to hand Bogota streets back to the people.  They believed the humble bicycle was the perfect way to do this.  In fact, the creators of Ciclovia were quoted as saying “the bicycle symbolizes individuality, civil rights, women’s rights, urban mobility, simplicity, the new urbanism, and, of course, environmental consciousness.”

Jump forward 40 years and the Ciclovia ideology has expanded past the streets of Bogota and become a worldwide phenomenon.  These Ciclovia inspired events have expanded to over 40 cities in the US and 15 countries across the world.  Known as CicLAvia in Los Angeles, Streets Alive in Atlanta, and Ciclorecreovia in Santiago, Chile, Ciclovia has given rise to a bona fide “open street movement”.  Even many smaller cities are joining in with their own open street events as well.

Whether big or small, cities are blocking off streets to traffic so people can get out and enjoy their streets.  From cyclists to runners, skateboarders to walkers, Ciclovía has inspired thousands of individuals to get outside.

Are there any Ciclovia inspired events near you?  Let us know in the comments below.

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