“Each Sunday and holiday the main streets of Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, and other municipalities, are blocked off for the event to become Carfree. From 7 am to 2 pm, runners, skaters and bicyclists take over the streets. At the same time, stages are set up in city parks. Aerobics instructors, yoga teachers and musicians lead people through various performances. Bogotá‘s weekly ciclovías are used by approximately 2 million people (30% of citizens) on over 120 km of carfree streets.” Enrique Peñalosa, former Mayor of Bogota, Columbia.
To the question, what make a good city? Jan Gehl, Danish architect answers, “good cities are the ones where people want to be outside, where people want to be in the public realm. It doesn’t matter if a place is hot or cold, humans have a need to be with each other, to meet and see and interact with other people.
“The way we do that is by walking. Deer need to run. Fish need to swim. We need to walk. And I see biking as a more efficient way to walk. It is sensual, like gliding. It is fun. And for me (Peñalosa), and most important, it is extremely democratic. A rich and a poor person can meet on the street on a bike, and the poor person doesn’t feel inferior. Bicycles give people a freedom of movement, a sense of equality”
“A quality city is not one that has great roads, but one where a child can safely go anywhere on a bicycle.” Enrique Peñalosa, Former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.
Above are interesting comments about people and the cities that they live in. Enrique Peñalosa was a founder of Ciclovia, in Bogota, Columbia This recreational event has had tremendous impact on a very populous, crime-ridden city. Now some fifteen years later, 70 US cities are engaging in this “public realm” event.
Concept: Ciclovia is the temporary closing of the street to allow public recreational use of the roads. This type of repeated activity engenders many benefits to a community. According to Gil Peñalosa, Executive Director of 8-80 Cities, “People traffic replaces car traffic, and the streets become ‘paved parks’ where people of all ages, abilities, and social, economic, or ethnic backgrounds can come out and improve their mental, physical, and emotional health.”
Ciclovia or “Open Streets” have become one of the most exciting advancements in the livable cities movement. Ciclovia provides new and fun ways to achieve environmental, social, economic, and public health goals for participants of these events in a community.
The Open Streets Guide shares a comparison with other open street events. “Despite sharing a few basic characteristics—temporary car-free streets, community involvement—open streets should not be confused with block parties or street fairs because the core objectives are fundamentally different. Indeed, while street fairs and block parties provide positive community benefits, they do not explicitly support physical activity or the broadening of transportation choices.” This comment develops a core objective of ciclovia in Salinas – ciclovia supports physical activity and broadening transportation choices; encouraging its residents to walk, run, bicycle, or use other forms of movement that requires personal health-generating physical activity.
Design an initiative intended to achieve the following objectives:
- • Build a sense of community through shared activity in a no-pressure environment
- • Create social networks among neighbors who might not otherwise meet
- • Encourage people to consider walking or biking as a viable form of transportation
- • Promote physical activity and fitness
- • Return a sense of ownership of the streets to the people
- • Give people an up close view of their town
- • Build support systems among neighbors
- • Increase neighborhood and downtown vitality, mobility, and livability
- • Bring residents from all parts of Salinas together to walk or ride and enjoy the “public realm”
A typical person, who chooses to exercise, does so for approximately 48 minutes per day; an average participant in ciclovia is active for 4 hours and 15 minutes, exercising in the city’s streets and parks — according to a study quoted by The Open Streets Guide. This may indicate that open streets generate positive public health outcomes. In the United States and Canada, many existing and emerging open streets initiatives are organized and sponsored by those working to improve public health through active living.
Open streets initiatives offer environmental benefits. Removing cars from the road, even just temporarily, provides a positive environmental impact. Most open streets initiatives also directly promote and encourage citizens to replace daily automobile trips with bicycling, walking, and public transportation. Thus, a measureable improvement in air quality is gained.
Participation and support of these events by numerous environmental organizations is common. The presence of such groups builds participants’ awareness, and highlights the connection between the natural and built environment, the economy, and public health.
In downtown or neighborhood business districts, open streets offer new economic opportunities for many types of businesses. The inclusion of local vendors, artists, non-profit organizations, musicians, and other performers invites wider participation, which in turn provides increased opportunity for restaurants and retailers.
Open streets also contribute to direct health care cost savings. Ciclovia has been found that from a public health perspective, these events are cost beneficial, especially when compared to other physical activity programs. The low costs are attributed to the highly efficient use of existing infrastructure: our streets!
Community and Social “Open streets initiatives provide more than just opportunities for physical exercise; they are an exercise in building community, cultural identity, and social engagement. By temporarily removing the danger of motor vehicles, open streets provide a novel type of public space that helps people make social connections and lets them view their city through a new lens.”
An immediate community benefit develops — one that is perhaps more exciting and visible than any associated environmental or public health benefit — is the amount of interaction that occurs between participants of all ages, incomes, occupations, religions, and races. Socializing with their fellow citizens in a non-threatening, apolitical environment allows individuals, community organizations, and political leaders to build social capital; develop a wider understanding of their city, and each other. This creates a very real potential for making streets friendlier to all people. Friendlier streets allow residents to take ownership of their neighborhoods; improving the safety and quality of life found in those neighborhoods.