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Tucson's Cyclovia heads south for the fall

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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. This season's route takes riders through the City of South Tucson.

Tucson’s Living Streets Alliance organization will be hosting its second Cyclovia event of the year. The route is different this season, running south into the City of South Tucson. 

According to Living Streets Alliance Program Manager, Kylie Walzak, riders can join the main route on 12th Avenue starting at 10 a.m. The route falls between Julian Wash Archeological Park on 39th Street and Mission Manner on Drexel Road.

“We have two routes every year; the first one was in April ... from downtown to the City of South Tucson,” Walzak said. “South Tucson is a part of town that historically has been under-invested in. There is a low rate of car ownership in the south side of Tucson, meaning that plenty of people get around by walking and biking as means of transportation.” 

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According to Walzak, Tucsonans can pedal 3.75 miles of public streets without a motorized vehicle in sight, free for bike riders to enjoy.

“If you’re too young or too old or too poor to own a vehicle, you’re basically excluded from that public space 364 days out of the year,” Walzak said. “This is a way to take back the streets and give them to the people for the day.”

According to City of Tucson Event Management Coordinator, Greg Jackson, off-duty Tucson Police Department officers volunteer in blocking the streets along the biking routes redirecting and redirect traffic during the event.

“Cyclovia has changed its routes every year to expose folks all over the city to ride their bikes,” Jackson said. “Cyclovia is pretty consistent in how they hold their events twice every year; they get a lot of spectatorship and participants.”

Although Cyclovia has introduced its new route in Tucson, the event is even more popular down south, past the U.S./Mexico border. Cyclovia is an international phenomenon enjoyed by plenty of people around the world.

“I had heard about Cyclovia events in South America, and one of the times that I was in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico I got to experience Cyclovia on a Sunday morning and had the best time exploring the city on a bike,” said Dr. Lane Santa Cruz, a professor at the Mexican American Studies department at UA. “Cyclovia Tucson events grow each year because people have a great time and tell their friends and family to join.”

According to Santa Cruz, local businesses along 12th Avenue will be sponsoring activities along the bike route. Tucson Unified School District and UA organizations will host events during Cyclovia. 

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“This year I've had a more formal role with Cyclovia Tucson as a Community Engagement Coordinator,” Santa Cruz said. “Through Living Streets Alliance I've been working with the businesses, schools, neighbors and organizations along the 12th Avenue corridor to get the word out and plan for the event, to make sure it's being representative of the communities along the route.”

According to Santa Cruz, People for Bikes’ Big Jump Project selected Tucson as one of 10 cities to double or triple bicycle ridership. People for Bikes is a national organization that encourages radical change in cities’ bicycling infrastructure while at the same time helping to propel communities nationwide into a better future for biking.

“I see this as an opportunity to elevate the resilience and rich cultural heritage found along 12th Avenue,” Santa Cruz said. “It's also an opportunity to elevate the status of active transportation as something that is for everyone and not only the poor commuter or the wealthy recreational cyclist.”


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