Last night I attended the Daily City Panel Series and last night's topic was biking in Orlando. The speakers were Mighk Wilson from Metroplan Orlando, Keri Caffrey from CommuteOrlando, and Angie Ross from 4onaquarter.com. One of the interesting topics that I had only heard of, but never researched was Ciclovia.
Ciclovia is government run closure of the streets in Bogata Columbia, every Sunday from 7am to 2pm, for 70 miles of roadway. In Bogata, over 2 million (30% of its citizens) enjoy Ciclovia each week. Participants include runners, skaters and bicyclists, and at the same time, stages are set up in city parks with aerobic instructors, yoga teachers, and musicians to lead people through various performances. Unlike Critical Mass which is more grass roots, Ciclovia is government sanctioned, and focuses on promoting physical fitness and health, social and cultural benefits, clean air, and safety.
Ciclovia has spread since its inception in 1976 to several other countries and even cities here in the United States. None of the other events are as large or occur as frequently as the one in Bogata, but are still very important to exhibit "car free" urban cycling.
Other cities should try this type of event to promote cycling and other types of active transportation. It only takes a governing body that is willing to share the road with all types of users. The only expense is in managing the closure of the routes and much of it can be done through volunteer staff. All events like Ciclovia will start out small, but there are plenty of case studies from other cities that show it can be a great success and is destined to be a positive influence on the community.