Boulder: Front Range of Cycling Consciousness

Ciclavia logoWhen Los Angeles gears up for its first CicLAvia (“sick-la-vee-ah”) ride on October 10th, Beverly Hills will get an up-close look at how to bring the community together around cycling while foregrounding physical activity as a value that needs to be celebrated in these sedentary times.  Soon enough, CicLAvia will turn Los Angeles roads into bikeways (if only for a few hours) from Downtown to the Eastside.  It’s a model of collective eco consciousness that should be celebrated and emulated.CicLAvia is part of a global movement to challenge the presumption that streets exist only for cars. The event is an offshoot of the popular Ciclovia festival that siezes Bogota, Columbia every week. There, in the streets, thousands share a wanderlust for human-powered mobility and togetherness –  a reminder of how autos divide rather than cohere the public in the very spaces we have created to celebrate shared experience. When people return streets to their  historic role as a forum for public performance (including making music and art) from their near single-use use today to ferry cars, we’re reminded of the potential!

The movement is really catching on in the States too. Indeed the Los Angeles CicLAvia is a relative latecomer. New York, Portland, Miami, Cleveland (!) have all held Ciclovia events. And why not:? These celebrations not only bring people together, they bring business to local merchants. Seems like you get on a bike and all of a sudden you’re in a spending mood: you’re hungry or thirsty, or you need a rest. And it’s so convenient to just park that ride on a kickstand.

Boulder ciclovia flyerBoulder has taken it up a notch with a well-promoted  Boulder Green Streets Ciclovia just days ago [see the beautiful flyer at left]. The city closed the main commercial corridor (imagine that!) of Pearl Street to create “activity zones” for kids and adults. Putting a fine point on the health implications of turning the streets back to activity spaces, the city invited vendors that emphasized activity and healthy living, including yoga dance classes. They even created an ‘activity passport’ (below right) to encourage stops at all the stations. Check out these poster and event materials. This is promotion done right! Boulder also used the event to anchor community outreach on those themes, tying into local neighborhood block parties [see the application PDF] throughout the city.

Boulder's Ciclavia activity passport
Boulder's Ciclavia: an 'activity passport' makes it fun for the whole family.

This Green Streets Revolution (as they call it) shows what can be done with a little creativity and lots of blacktop. It raises awareness, drives local commerce, and brings folks together. When I think of Beverly Hills I think of high-gloss commercial events (think Concours d’Elegance) or a Christmas street party that, in my neighborhood at least, is on life support. We can and should do better, and Boulder is a model.

Boulder's Ciclovia route map: right through the center of town.

Check out how the city integrated their Green Streets event location into the commercial heart of the city, below, and also tied it into the city’s network of bike paths too (green streets on the map). Great job Boulder!

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