A movement is afoot (pun intended) to reclaim roadways as public spaces. The movement is called “Open Streets” or “Cyclovias.”
The message it sends—“Come play in the street!”—seems counter to (completely opposite, actually) the more common one warning people of the dangers of playing in and around thoroughfares for cars and trucks. So what’s the purpose of it? Is it really telling people to engage in dangerous behavior? Not at all!
Communities around the world are hosing Open Streets or Cyclovia events as a way to promote active living and community building. These types of events also allow people to see their community from a different vantage point than what traveling in a car or truck provides. You can take in so much more of a place’s culture and essence when you travel more slowly by foot or bike.
One of the largest and most robust Cyclovias (translated “bikeways”) is held in Bogata, Columbia, every Sunday and holiday when more than 2 million people pour into the nearly 75 miles of streets which are closed to motor vehicles. They bike, jog, dance and enjoy each other’s company. You can watch videos of Bogata’s Cyclovia on YouTube to see what a spectacular event it is.
As you might have guessed, this movement is coming to Fort Collins. It’s something many of us who are engaged in active transportation and the health industry have explored and want to try here in our hometown. Our first “Open Streets” event will take place on Sunday, July 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., on Laurel Street between Remington Street and Lesser Drive and on Whedbee Street between Laurel and Prospect Road.
The City is closing this two-mile section of streets to motorized traffic and opening it up for people to walk, run, skip, bike, dance, do yoga or the hokey pokey, socialize with fellow Fort Collinites—you name it. Local businesses are partnering with the City to provide fun activities, but everyone’s invited to play in their own way. Since the event focuses on health, it won’t include or allow adult beverages. Rather, there will be several water stations throughout the route so people can stay hydrated. I find that refreshing.
The businesses that operate and neighbors who live along the route find it agreeable, too. We were very deliberate in notifying them and getting their approval.
While a group of us, led by the City’s FC Bikes staff, have helped plan our Open Streets event, we’re looking for 200 volunteers to help make it a success. Volunteer jobs include set up, staffing an information booth and helping make the event one that’s zero waste. Some of Fort Collins bicycle police and PVH EMS will be on hand to help keep everyone safe.
To learn more or volunteer for Open Streets, go online to www.fcgov.com/openstreets. It’s going to be a fun time you won’t want to miss!
Kim Sharpe is a BPEC member, Bicycle Ambassador and League of American Cyclists certified instructor.