The idea of a ciclovia style street closure in Greenville has been discussed for quite some time now. It has been mentioned in public meetings, and many people in the community (including elected officials) support the idea. With all of that discussion though, it hasn’t happened yet. I think we are past due to change that.
If you are not familiar with the ciclovia movement, I encourage you to watch this excellent 10 minute video about the original ciclovia (Spanish for bike path), an event which was started by Gil Peñalosa in Bogotá, Colombia. According to Gil’s bio at 8-80cities.org, the success of the program in Bogata, which “sees over 1 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday,” has led to similar programs all around the globe.
In 2008, Portland, Oregon held their first Sunday Parkways street closure, an event that they continue to hold about 5 times a year. Soon after that first ciclovia inspired event in Portland, I posed the question on the Bike Greenville blog, why not here? At that time, only a few cities in the US were closing select streets to cars for a few hours to allow the public to walk, run, bike, skate, or participate in whatever other activity they could imagine to spend time outdoors. Since 2008 though, much has changed. Almost anywhere you go now, you can find some local variation on the ciclovia idea. These days, it is not just traditionally bike friendly cities like Portland, Boulder, Austin, or Madison closing streets to car traffic. Car centric Los Angeles has a popular event that draws over 100,000 people and Ciclovia styled programs can now be found in cities close to home like Atlanta, Durham, and Savannah. To find out about even more closed street events around the country, check out this recent list published at Bicycling Magazine.
As I said earlier, I believe that the time is right for Greenville to join the list of cities that close a few streets to cars, and open them to people, for a few hours each month. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments, and let’s work to make this happen.