Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Word of the Day: Ciclovia

Ciclovia is a Spanish term that literally means "bike path" but has come to be used to denote events (either one-time or recurring) where city streets are closed to all but non-vehicular traffic. Walkers, cyclists, unicyclists, wheelchairs, skateboards, rollerskates, etc. are allowed during these times, but cars are not. Bogata, Columbia has one of the biggest and longest-running events (over 25 years) with 2 million people attending (30% of citizens) on Sundays on over 70 miles of carfree streets!

Very few US cities have such events. Some, like Portland Oregon have one-day events like the Portland Bridge Pedal. El Paso, Texas is one of the few U.S. cities that have held a regular weekly event. But this week in our town, a group of people is getting together to organize such an event here. I'm hoping to be able to attend the organizational meeting (yes, in all my spare time, hah!) It's such a great idea, and the street here in town that they're thinking about holding it on is one of the worst in our city for cycling. Almost every route through town here has at least one good cycling option except for this one street. It has no bike lane, bad pavement, and lots of businesses whose driveways intersect the already-heavily-used sidewalks. So there's no real place for cyclists to go. A cyclovia-type event would not only be great for the whole city, but would also draw attention to the need for safe cycling routes on this street.

In any case, as a word junkie I just like the word "ciclovia" - it calls up in my mind the words "cycle" (of course) but also the Latin word for road, and the current usage of via as "by way of" or "by the means of". It also brings to mind the French word "vie" for "life".

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