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Cyclovia opens streets to community, closes them to cars

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Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat

Cyclists ride down colorful neighborhood streets and check out fun tents containing DJs, coffee, ice cream, street tacos and local sustainability initiatives at Cyclovia on April 2. 

With bikes, skateboards, roller-skaters and even penny-farthings, Tucson’s bi-annual bike blow-out, otherwise known as Cyclovia, drew in thousands this past Sunday to celebrate people-powered transportation and bring the community together in a fun, healthy way. 

Orange cones lined the roads and volunteers in Cyclovia shirts or bright traffic vests stood ready at booths and intersections, working in conjunction with police to keep attendees safe.

Celeste Muniz, a 19-year-old UA student studying electrical engineering and a Blue Chip Leadership volunteer, said her primary job was to listen to the cops to help halt traffic. She had seen a good variety of creative cyclists.

“There was a unicorn bike that pooped glitter and another one that was super tall,” Muniz said. “Like a guy on stilts, but on a bike.” 

RELATED: SFS educates cyclists at Cyclovia Tucson

Certain roads were closed off to motorized traffic, opening a safe route for participants from El Presidio Park downtown to West 33rd Street and South Eighth Avenue. Along the route, residents cheered riders along and local businesses or activities inspired participants to engage with their families and Tucson neighbors.

Adrian Perez, a 27-year-old mechanical engineer and local Tucson resident, who attended the event with Jazmine Dagnino, a 22-year-old UA psychology student, felt that Cyclovia was a strong community-oriented event. 

“I think the thing that I enjoy the most is that this is supported by the community,” Perez said. “You can tell just by the amount of people that are out here. You have kids who are five years old to 50 years old and that’s what makes the event successful.”

Another attendee, 66-year old Kenneth Brown, who works as a clinician supervisor at a shelter for unaccompanied minors and refugee children and pastors at the Trinity Presbyterian Church, said that the event gets larger each year and unified people from all different backgrounds.

“It’s a terrific event. It brings together people who either love cycling, skateboarding, skating, walking or who are coming for the first time,” Brown said. “Now it’s grown so much because we’ve got more and more children involved and booths of community organizations.”

According to the official Cyclovia Tuscon website, some local organizations that were along the route included Beyond Bread, Bookmans, Pima Animal Care Center, HealthOn, the YMCA, Beyond-Tucson, Sacred Space Tucson and El Grupo Youth Cycling. 

In total, there were five “activity hubs” open to the public on the route where Cyclovians could buy or sample food, participate in activities like zip-lining, rock climbing, bubble blowing, attending a museum free of charge or watching performances.

Specifically, these hubs were El Presidio Activity Hub, the Joel Valdez Main Library Hub, the Museum of Contemporary Art Activity Hub, the Living Streets Alliance Activity Hub and Healthy Tucson’s 6th annual Health Fair Hub.

Judith Schnieder, a 60-year old super volunteer at Cyclovia, said the event and its’ activities are a way for people to get outdoors and spend quality time together.

“It’s a way for families to do things together and get out of their cars,” Schnieder said, who was thankful for the traffic-free streets. “A lot of the booths are local organizations and we give helmets to the kids.”

According to the Living Streets Alliance, who help host and organize the event, the concept of “Cyclovia” originated in Bogotá, Colombia, where Sundays and holidays of every week during the year cause the closure of streets for over 70 miles of roads. The Living Streets Alliance were the group that began Cyclovia seven years ago, in 2010.

RELATED: No cars allowed at Cyclovia Tucson

With a focus on community, the Cyclovia Planning Committee has developed 6 guiding goals for the event, which are:

  1. Enhance the brand and identity of Greater Tucson as a progressive urban community
  2. Increase the health and activity of Greater Tucson area residents
  3. Promote and increase awareness for cycling and walking as an acceptable and safe mode of travel on public streets
  4. Increase neighborhood mobility, livability and access
  5. Provide a unique and sociable fun experience for citizens
  6. Provide a free public event affordable for all

Want to participate in the next Cyclovia ? The next one, according to the official Tucson Cyclovia website, will be hosted Oct. 29, in 208 days, at 10 a.m. Donations opportunities and more information can be found at: www.cycloviatucson.org/


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