It looks as if Ciclovía street closing events are finally starting to take off here in the U.S. A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor mentions upcoming events in Portland, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Baltimore.

“They danced the tango in Portland, Ore., they’re doing the samba in New York, and by the end of this month, they’ll be dancing in the streets of San Francisco. It’s urban planning with a Latin twist, a simple idea imported from South America for transforming the cityscape. Temporary street closures, or ciclovías, are sweeping across the US, as cities take a new look at alternative uses for their streets.”

During Ciclovía events, roads are closed to automobiles and residents are encouraged to walk, bike, or use whatever mode they choose as long as it doesn’t involve motor vehicles.

“It all started in Bogota, Colombia, about 30 years ago. The ciclovía — which means ‘cycle way,’ or bike path, in Spanish — was designed as a relatively inexpensive way to promote walking and bicycling, and to encourage the mingling of people from all backgrounds in the city’s streets.”

“It worked. Every Sunday Bogota draws nearly one-fourth of its population of 7 million out to walk and cycle 81 miles of car-free streets.”

A wonderful side-effect of these events is a inter-mingling of people that would otherwise be isolated from one another, cooped up in their cars.

“In the early years of the event, residents from the poorer sections of town, many of them of Indian descent, and those from more affluent neighborhoods, of European descent, would halt at one another’s boundaries. After a while, though, those invisible lines began to melt, and now people from all over the city mingle freely.”

“It’s part of a sea change in how we’re viewing city streets,” says Susan King, the coordinator of San Francisco’s event. “A city street becomes an entirely different landscape when you take the cars away. It creates opportunities for people to come out and exercise, meet their neighbors, and learn to appreciate their city in a whole new way.”

I think we’re just scratching the surface here in the U.S.; I’m hoping we’ll eventually see regularly scheduled Ciclovía events in every major city in the country.

Read the full article in the CSM

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