A picturesque sight down at the Cooks River

Today, by chance I came across Ciclovia – a Council-run event of car-free roads throughout Bogota, Columbia that happens every Sunday from 7am-2pm.  Ciclovia was established in 1974, initially with 13 kms of car-free roads.  Now it encompasses 113 kms & includes the CBD.

Thousands of residents, young & old get out onto the streets & ride their bikes or scooters, grab their dog & put on their walking shoes or skates.  There are 20 exercise stations where free aerobic classes are held, even classes targeted to children. Hundreds of people of all ages & fitness levels participate in these classes.  Those who don’t have bikes can hire a bike for free in some of the city’s parks.  Food & drink vendors line the streets offering a pit stop so it is good for business also.

Runs on flower power

Cars are not stopped completely as some of the roads only close some lanes for the 7-hour period.  Having been established for so many decades I’d guess that anyone travelling in a vehicle on Sundays would know to drive around the Ciclovia route anyway.

The Guardian newspaper wrote in 2010 about Ciclovia, “More than 2 million people come out every week to cycle, hang out, flirt, pose & eat on the street. It’s transport policy in a Critical Mass dreamworld, & the weekly event makes Boris Johnson’s once-a-year cycling ambitions for London look like the lily-livered, business-loving, small-thinking, can’t-do claptrap they truly are. If a city as busy & poor as Bogotá can close its roads every Sunday of the year, & every one of the dozens of holidays enjoyed here, why can’t London, or Manchester, or Liverpool, or Glasgow or Cardiff or Newcastle? Is it so radical a concept to promote healthy, non-polluting, silent forms of transport that bring people together, rather than locking them behind airbags & safety glass, for just half a day a week? Must we measure everything so drearily in pounds lost to business?” http://bit.ly/anctmy

Other Colombian cities have versions of Ciclovia – Cali, Medellin, Villavicencio, Soacha & Pasto.  So does Chili & Venezuela. Guadalajara in Mexico started with 12.8 kms (8-miles) & have since expended to 25.7 kms (16-miles) of car-free roads on Sundays. Ottawa in Canada creates 56.3 kms (35-miles) of their version of Ciclovia during the warmer months from May to September.  San Franciso has held at least 2 ‘Sunday Streets’ where they connected 2 communities together, set up a number of free exercise events along the route.  http://bit.ly/94hl1b

Portland in Oregon USA is holding 5 ‘Sunday Parkways’ in 2012 from May to September.  They say, Portland Sunday Parkways promotes healthy active living through a series of free events opening the city’s largest public space – its streets – to walk, bike, roll, & discover active transportation.  Sunday Parkways fosters civic pride, stimulates economic development, & represents the community, business, & government investments in Portland’s vitality, livability, & diversity.”  http://bit.ly/cTovQq

The City of Wilsonville, also in Oregon, will hold a one-day ‘Sunday Street’ event in 2012 with an 8 km route around the LGA.  New York opens nearly 11 kms (7-miles) of streets from 7am-1pm on 3 consecutive Sundays for their program called ‘Summer Streets.’

Considering Marrickville Council has recently had a Recreation Survey completed, their minds are on this issue at the moment.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if something like this could be set up in Marrickville LGA.  It would be a great way for Council to get thousands of people out on the streets exercising, distressing, having fun & getting to know each other.

Ciclovia has been credited with making people feel more united with the city, more tolerant, more conscious of their actions & much happier with a better quality of life.  They would be fitter too with less obesity.  It’s a community program that is obviously very good for people & with shrinking space & more traffic that comes with development, would be a great idea for this locality.

You can watch a great video of Bogota’s Ciclovia here – http://www.8-80cities.org/Videos03.html

Bikes for hire