“A quality city is not one that has great roads, but one where a child can safely go anywhere on a bicycle” ~ Former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia Enrique Penalosa
Ciclovia (Spanish for “Bike Path”) has become a global movement whereby city streets are liberated of cars once a week (from around 7:00 am. – 2:00 pm) for bicyclists, skaters, walkers, runners and mass aerobic doers to enjoy. This very sensible craze originated in Bogota, Colombia in the mid 70’s and was really absorbed into the Colombian social matrix in the 90’s by the outstanding combined brotherly talents of then Mayor Enrique Penalosa & Parks Director Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa. It is an all-inclusive (men/women/rich/poor/all ages) weekly event that takes place on pre-existing infrastructure. Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa’s long-list of international accomplishments can be ogled on the 8-80 Cities http://www.8-80cities.org website, of which he is the current the Executive Director.
Today, there are 67 Ciclovias throughout Colombia and Bogota’s Ciclovia has expanded to 120 km of car free area (bicycle rentals are often made available for those who don’t own). Ciclovia has sprouted roots internationally and can be found in Brazil, Mexico, United States, Canada…to name but a few. Winnipeg was the first city in Canada to hold an official Ciclovia in 2009. Ottawa & Gatineau have been the site for Ciclovias-type closures since the 70’s with their Sunday Bikedays Program. Currently Gil Penalosa (of 8-80 Cities) and Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto) are working together to launch Toronto’s first Ciclovia events – read more about the exciting project here and here.
In Montreal, Velo Quebec has paved the way for annual events that open up roadways for several bicycle related events such as the adored Tour de L’Ile. I wonder why Montreal (unlike Ottawa & Portland) has not yet embraced the notion of a weekly road way multi-purpose use à-la Bogota? Seeing the high volume of activity along the dedicated bicycle paths of Montreal – especially on weekends, I suspect many Montrealers & visitors would embrace the weekly opportunity to walk, run, bike, yoga, aerobic & skateboard in peace along closed roadways with kids, friends, family & neighbours. Perhaps it’s worth a try?
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