Friday, July 26, 2013

Ciclovía What?

The Spanish term "Ciclovía" (pronunciation) or open streets effectively means a temporary and periodic closing of a street to motorized vehicle traffic and opening it for pedestrians, bicycles and other uses. Created in Bogota, Columbia in the 1970s, it's an event that typically happens once a month or more, removing automobile parking and closing streets to car traffic for part or all of a day. While bicycling is the major attraction, many the streets are opened for mass exercising, small concerts and other activities. In many cases, local businesses participate by temporarily moving seating or functions into the street or onto the sidewalk.

While other cities like Portland, Atlanta, Baltimore and New York have events like this regularly, the District does not. What if we did? What if U Street were closed each Sunday morning from Georgia Avenue to 18th Street NW? What about M Street NW between the Key Bridge and 28th Street one Saturday morning a month?

BAC would like your suggestions for streets that could be good candidates for a District Ciclovía. While there are currently no plans to introduce this concept, BAC is compiling a list of bike issues and bike ideas that we could present to the District government. Why not add this idea to our list?

Please let us know what you think by using the survey below.

The District has limited experience with open streets and has been discussed in the past, but really hasn't happened. According to Washcycle the July 4 Independence day celebration on the National Mall, the mass closure of downtown streets to cars allowed for an "unofficial" Ciclovía. Bike DC, a once-a-year closure of several District streets for bicycling, had elements of a Ciclovía, but it was cancelled for 2013. Beach Drive NW is closed to most automobiles each Saturday and Sunday from Broad Branch Road NW to the District boarder with Maryland (with vehicles allowed 'limited' access to the picnic lots), but it's not exactly a Ciclovía either. It's sort of like a block party but larger and sometimes in a commercial corridor.

Below is a Streetfilms video of a Ciclovía in Bogata, Columbia.