Cyclovia and National Bike Month!

May is National Bike Month so I only see it fitting to write a little about events taking place to strengthen the bicycle community and with that, biking families. As author Russell Anderson so eloquently states ‘Bike riding is great for family involvement. It’s something fun to bring everyone together.’

Family Fun!
Family Fun! Photo By Taylor Miller

Being from Tucson we are lucky to have a full month in April of Bike Fest Tucson activities in anticipation of National Bike Month. Within this month of Tucson ‘awesomeness’ as my daughter calls it, we have that great event Cyclovia. This is the day after weeks of ‘Mom, can we go to Cyclovia today’ I can finally say emphatically, ‘YES!’

Cyclovia! Photo By Taylor Miller

To be honest- I look forward to Cyclovia too! Two words explain it all – NO CARS! Again, I must say it a few more time as if it was a dream- NO CARS, NO CARS!

As a mom I am always teaching my kids to not cross the street without looking both ways, be wary of cars and driveways and make sure you can see mommy (otherwise mommy can’t see you). Most of the time when we get home the kids hop out of the trailer and on the balance bike, scooter, or just run after our dog. They are out of the garage before I can process everything so I am caught running down the street, helmet still on and fumbling off the bike, yelling to make sure they understand the rules and again, ‘WATCH OUT FOR CARS’. I relish time when I don’t have to cringe at the sight of a speeding car down our street rolling through the stop sign.

The Girls and Their Wheels
The Girls and Their Wheels

And yes, this is why I WELCOME the Tucson Cyclovia with open arms!

Before I explode into a thousand reasons why Cyclovia is just so awesome I want to introduce those who may not be so lucky to have such an event in their towns/cities to all that such an event offers. Bear with me those who know of such an event. We are the lucky ones by far!

Ciclovia (origin of Cyclovia) is a Spanish word meaning bike path (US) or cycle lane (UK). This simple word and meaning has sprung life into celebrating the opening of streets to the people without motorists providing a safe, CAR-Free, CARE-free and enjoyable celebration of walking, biking, scooting, or any method of travel free of an engine. From LA (LA CicLAvia) to Tucson to Paris to San Francisco to Brussels (Brussels Cyclovia) to India to Australia people celebrate Cyclovia, Ciclovia, ‘Open Streets’, ‘Sunday Street’ or ‘Happy Streets’. Regardless of the actual title, the result is the same, CAR Free celebrations for the people!

Ciclovia Bogota- The Start of it All
Ciclovia Bogota- The Start of it All

The origins of Cyclovias occurring worldwide are credited to Bogota, Columbia beginning in 1974. They currently are fortunate to have streets free of cars and full of celebration WEEKLY – yes, WEEKLY! Runners, bikers, families, the people retake a portion of the streets every Sunday AND public holidays with not only walking, biking, scooting, etc BUT yoga, music, dancing- one big party celebration of life and living! You can’t do this in your car

In Trip Advisor, the Ciclovia de Bogota actually ranks #6 currently in the top attractions during a Bogota visit.

A Map of the Ciclovia Celebration- Bogota
A Map of the Ciclovia Celebration- Bogota

If you have the time, please check out videos on Street Films (Car Free- The Rise of Open Streets) showing the rise of Open Street events and some pretty cool examples of Sunday Streets and Car-Free zones. If you are like me and love the thought of energizing the cycling movement this is a wonderful opportunity to witness from afar good vibes being spread.

There is no better way in my mind than Cylcovia to help bring together those seeking alternative forms of transport in a safe environment. Ultimately, from our years of both participating and volunteering in Cyclovia, I have not seen a better way to educate the public than to draw more people to the roads. It is only through pulling more people out to walk or ride that we will see safer streets.

For families, you can infer quickly why Cyclovia and similar events are powerful events to attend and promote. I am amazed always at the sheer volume of children biking, walking, running, skating, scooting, boarding, just moving at our local Cylcovia! There is no better event to test out your new child’s bike seat or trailer, help familiarize your son or daughter with their new set of wheels or to just get some family time together without dodging oncoming traffic.

Mom and the kids- A New Ride
Mom and the kids- A New Ride

For my family, we biked our way to the event- Nana, Papa, Mommy, Daddy, Ali, and Everest. Just under 6 miles we trekked with the trailer, balance bike (attached to the trailer on top by some magnificent bungee cords) and a scooter in our cargo basket. With main hubs sprinkled with activities throughout the Cylcovia path INCLUDING a ZIP LINE! Yes, a ZIP LINE! we had no loss for excitement or ‘Mommy, I am bored’ statements. There were games to be won, samples to be tasted and smiles to be spread as we hopped activity to activity.

ZipLine! Photo by Taylor Miller
Cyclovia Start- Our Bungee Cord and Balance Bike
Bottom Left
Cyclovia Start- Our Bungee Cord and Balance Bike Bottom Left

With such a wealth of events we planned and made it to the event before the event started by 30mins and already saw other like minded individuals arriving! The anticipated weather of Seattle rainstorms and tropical storm like wind gusts still did not damper the spirits of those who look forward to this event in Tucson. Despite this inclement weather 25,000 people attended!!! Imagine any event that had 25,000 people attend- you would think it was a movement :)!

The Open Streets FULL of riders!
The Open Streets FULL of riders, walkers, scooter et al! Photo by Taylor Miller

In one day, a town of roughly 525,000 people we had almost 5% of the population walking, riding, scooting, etc- just not driving for a set period of time. Imagine this in just your ride home in the car. If 1 in 20 drivers were NOT on the roads how great that would be…

I could write more about Cyclovia but my best advice- visit one! If your city is not part of the lucky bunch, take a vacation! Spend a week in April in Tucson (Bike Fest Tucson) and bring your bikes then spread the knowledge and fun to your city!

Sweeping into May after all the April excitement in Tucson we have National Bike Month! Around since 1965, and sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists events take place nationwide to celebrate biking with, of course- the main goal to get people biking. If even one goes out on a ride just for a day it will bring more awareness to bicycling. Maybe we will no longer have to say a moment of silence for all those stuck in traffic on their way to the gym to ride a stationary bike- just maybe they will choose to ride the road, feel safe there and skip the headache.

National Bike Month Courtesy National Bike League
National Bike Month Courtesy National Bike League

Within National Bike Month are 3 very important main events:

  • Bike to School Day (Find your school/Register An Event)
    • An amazing opportunity to motivate youth and their families to ride together to school. Sponsored by National Center for Safe Routes to School. IF that were not enough, by participating in an event you can enter to win a bike! Nothing better than that! Enjoy and spread the word.
  • Mother’s Day Ride (Register/Find An Event)
    • This day, May 8th, is an opportunity for women to unite worldwide for CycloFemme events. Let’s honor and celebrate the triumphs of women’s cycling thus far and empower the future to women’s cycling.
  • National Bike to Work Week 2016: May 16-20 and Bike to Work Day: May 20!

We all ride for a reason personal to us. Some ride for quicker transportation, some to preserve the environment, some to save money and others just to get outside. Whatever your reason is- embrace the opportunity you have and help strengthen this for future riders. Join, start and/or support events for National Bike Month local to you and when given the chance- attend a Cyclovia! You will be happy you had…

Dr Suess said it best, ‘Today is your day. your mountain is waiting so get on your way’!


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