Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ciclovia Medellin

Medellin is one of several Latin American cities that hosts a weekly Ciclovia. Every Sunday from 9am to 1pm, Medellin closes 30km of main roads to vehicles. The roads are dedicated to cycling and other forms of recreational use, including walking, jogging, and rollerblading. 

Ciclovia Medellin began in 1989. Back then, only a few kilometers were allocated by the city; all on the city outskirts. Now, Ciclovia runs along the river and through the city center and upscale neighborhoods of Poblado and Envigado. Its the equivalent of shutting down Auckland's Queen St and Tamaki Drive, or, Boston's Newbury St, Storrow Drive and Atlantic Avenue.

Medellin recently hosted the 6th annual Ciclovias Recreativas de las Americas. Speakers and panelists discussed such topics as: "Designing the Street for Cyclists and Pedestrians;" "Night Rides in Cali;" and "Strategy for a Bikeable Lima." 

It turns out that cities compete with one another for Ciclovia bragging rights. One of the panel discussions at the Medellin conference was titled "Why and How to Promote Healthy Competition Between Ciclovias Across the Continent." Bogota reportedly hosts the world's largest Ciclovia. According to CyclingInquisition.com, Bogota closes 128km of roads for 2 million people every Sunday (Bogota's total population is 8m). (And aside from Ciclovia, Bogota has 300km of fully-protected bike lanes throughout the city). Competing Ciclovias include Caracas, Quito, Aruba, Rosario (Argentina), Guadalajara, Mexico City, Bogota, Cali, Cuba, Lima, Santiago, and Sorocaba (Brazil).

I finally experienced Ciclivia this past weekend (Sunday mornings can be rough in Medellin). Some parts of the road were fairly crowded with all sorts of users, including kids and elderly. In other areas, I had a four-lane highway to myself. And there are plenty of amenities too, including people to help fix your bike in case of a mechanical or puncture, and others selling food and drinks (see pictures below).

Roadside assistance.


3 lanes to myself.

People in green and yellow suits help manage Ciclovia. They wouldn't let me take photos, so I waited for them to turnaround. (Its very difficult to photograph a building or any government employee in Medellin). 

1 comment:

  1. The weather sure looks nice compared to Boston where it's been around 5 degrees Celsius.