What are Ciclovia / Open Street Events?
Imagine some of the busy streets in your city without any cars and people are riding, scooting, skating, and walking freely in the open streets in a party-like atmosphere with music and food vendors around. That is a good idea of what a Ciclovia open street event is like.
The idea is to celebrate the places we live in with a focus on healthy active transportation and to imagine how our cities can be better with safer infrastructure for human scale transportation.
In addition to music and food vendors, local businesses and organizations may also be at central hubs along the route to promote their products, services, or mission. Some of these central hubs are located at a local park that offers picnic tables, playgrounds, and restroom facilities.
These open street events usually happen for 1 day during the main part of the day and there is a closed loop for people to enjoy the open streets. After the event the streets are opened back up to vehicle traffic. These open street events are happening across the US and the world. Here is a video from the CicLAvia events that happen in the Los Angeles area to give you a closer look:
2023 Ciclovia / Open Street Events
The Open Streets Project has a comprehensive list of events happening around the US.
The way the name is spelled varies based on location. You may see it as Ciclovia, Cyclovia, CicLAvia, CycLOUvia, etc.
Here are some of the large cities that have open street events and there are more cities listed in the link above. Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami, Buffalo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tucson, Fort Worth, Fort Collins, Oakland, Bloomington, Columbus, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Nashville, Toronto, Philadelphia, Portland, Santa Barbara, Seattle, St. Louis, Missoula, and more.
Can I Ride My eBike in a Ciclovia Event?
Most Ciclovia events are open to electric bikes, but it is a good idea to double check your local events website to make sure. Riding speeds during a Ciclovia event are usually pretty slow because there are so many people and there are fun things to see and do along the way.
With that in mind it is a good idea to set your pedal assist level low or use minimal throttle to match the speed of the group if you ride an eBike at Ciclovia.
Have Some Fun!
Many people who ride in Ciclovia events dress up their bike and sometimes themselves to celebrate these fun events.
Some ideas for dressing up your eBike are:
- Streamers on the handlebars
- A creative bike bell or horn
- Decorations on the frame
- Flowers in baskets
- Spoke beads
- Flashing front and rear lights
- A stylish helmet
Rocking the tunes is also a popular thing to do during the rides. There are some portable speakers that connect to your phone to play your favorite playlist during the ride.
Bring your furry friend along for the ride too. Some people bring their dog along for the ride in a bike trailer. They always get the attention!
And if you want to really go all in you can dress up in a costume to really have some fun.
The Origins of Ciclovia
The Ciclovia name is a Spanish term for “cycleway”.
The inspiration for these open street events is credited to Bogotá, Colombia that began in 1974 and has since grown into a regular Sunday event that attracts as many as 2 million people per event and includes 75 miles of open streets.
These huge Ciclovia events include music and other entertainment along the route. They also include aerobics and yoga classes for the participants as well as a large variety of food and drink. It is a popular tourist attraction.
Here is a video to give a closer look at the Ciclovia in Bogota:
From the inspiration of Bogota’s events, Ciclovia open street events are now happening around the world in countries like Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and the United States.
It is inspiring to think about what Bogota has done to create a safe and fun place for people to come together as a community to celebrate active transportation and the community that they live in.
It’s impressive that they have a Ciclovia event every Sunday (and every holiday) that it has become a real tradition for the community.
Most Ciclovia or Open Street events in the US are held once or twice a year. That is good but based on the success of Bogota, it could become a regular event.
These events are definitely fun with everyone coming together in a party-like atmosphere to celebrate human scale transportation. But there is also a bigger impact to these events.
They give you an idea of how different the city can be without vehicle traffic taking up a majority of the streets.
Not all cities can have streets completely dedicated to active transport but these kinds of events underscore how we all could use more bike and pedestrian infrastructure to make our cities more livable and enjoyable.
A lot of cities and towns in the US have been built around automobile transportation with little focus on safe and cohesive bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
These Ciclovia events are a great way to show how many people use active transportation and how much more socially interactive these forms of transport can be. Instead of automobile noise, its people talking and having fun. Not to mention how many more people can use the same space vs. a much smaller number of people using automobiles.
So as much as the Ciclovia events are fun they also can get the ideas flowing on how valuable adding safe and cohesive bike and pedestrian infrastructure can be.
Other Fun Bike Events
There are also a lot of other fun bike events to checkout beyond the open street events.
The New York City TD 5 Boro Bike Tour looks like a lot of fun! This is a 40 mile bike ride through Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island with no cars, just bikes on the road. 32,000 people ride in it and it sells out quickly. Music and entertainment lines the route and there is a big party at the end in Staten Island.
Similarly, The DC Bike Ride is 17 miles of a car free route that goes by the iconic monuments and memorials like the White House and Capitol Buildings.
Chicago has the Bike the Drive event where 20,000 cyclists can enjoy 30 miles of riding along the scenic Lake Shore Drive that is closed to automobile traffic.
Portland, Oregon (Portlandia) has the Bridge Pedal ride that crosses as many as 11 bridges that span the Willamette river and the route is also closed to cars. 20,000 people ride the 37 mile route that has good views of the river and city.
Slow Roll Detroit is a weekly ride through parts of the city and it looks like a lot of fun! They make ride announcements on Facebook and Instagram.
El Tour de Tucson is an annual ride in November around Tucson, AZ and they have an electric bike category.
For those looking for a challenging ride, there is the Seattle to Portland ride that is around 200+ miles and riders can choose to do it in 1 day or 2.
Similarly there is the Santa Barbara 100 ride that has an eBike category.
These are just a few examples of other bike events. Check with your local bike club or group for more ideas on fun bike events in your area.
Enjoy the Open Streets
Ciclovia events are a lot of fun to experience with everyone enjoying the open streets in a party-like atmosphere.
It is so much fun to celebrate active transportation with fellow riders, skaters, scooters, and walkers.
These events are also good for inspiring a community to focus more on adding valuable safe and cohesive bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
Checkout a Ciclovia or Open Streets event near you with a look at this page or an internet search of your city/town with the terms “ciclovia” or “open streets”.
Enjoy the ride!