I’m not sure when I first heard about Colombia’s Ciclovia cycling event. Over the years it has become almost mythical in my mind. Masses of happy, smiling people riding weekly on cordoned off streets through the decidedly urban cityscape of Bogata, Colombia without fearing being hit by cars and dealing with roadway issues.
Part of the appeal of the Ciclovia event is the opportunity to travel internationally to participate in a movement that I’m deeply passionate about: Working to cultivate and grow a new generation of bicyclists while keeping current riders safe. I’ve studied Spanish for a number of years, so the idea of riding through the streets of a South American city free of worries while speaking Spanish has an appeal that I can’t deny.
I love that a South American city known for its deeply troubled past has managed to introduce an absolutely phenomenal communal event that has expanded in one form or another across the world.
I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in a Ciclovia event in Denver, Colorado a few years ago. At that time, I felt like I was on the forefront of something new and exciting. I felt that I was a part of a community of people who understood the importance of spending time with people in your community.
As I rode up and down the streets of Denver with my mom on a bright sunny Colorado day, I felt a sense of community that sometimes is missing in day-to-day life. We rode slowly at some points, quickly at others. Stopped and ate some of the food provided by food trucks along the route. Listened to music and watched other families ride by. Small children pedaled furiously on their tiny bikes with looks of fierce concentration on their cute little faces, and older couples smiled at each other as they cruised up and down the street. I also just enjoyed spending valuable time with my mom.
Colombia’s Ciclovia is revolutionary in its simplicity. It created a safe space for people to spend time together. Participants aren’t focused on hyper-consumption, looking their best or who’s the coolest. There’s really no space for it.
It is my hope and my dream to one day ride up and down the streets of Bogata, speaking in Spanish, looking at the view of the city, and being in the birthplace of a movement that I fully support and would like to see grow, especially in the United States where we need to spend more time with our friends and family. And, we need to participate more in activities that encourage fitness and community connections.
For those of use who are passionate about the art of cycling, Ciclovia is the culmination of the love of cycling. To ride free from the danger of traffic accidents and crowed spaces. I hope that you get the opportunity to participate in a Cyclovia event sometime soon, and if you do, let me know what you thought about it!