‘Cycle Days’ to take over Uptown streets
By Morgan M. Hurley | SDUN Assistant Editor
Over five miles of San Diego city streets will be closed to motor vehicles and only open to foot traffic and bicycles, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 11.
Called CicloSDias, the car-free event is a first for the region, but San Diego will be joining other major cities across the country and throughout Latin America when it hosts the “cycle days” that focus on bike- and walk-friendly neighborhoods.
Organized by the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition (SDCBC), CicloSDias is being fashioned after those similar events, including ones in Los Angeles. Now in its fourth year, the April L.A. event saw an attendance of 180,000.
The SDCBC was launched by the Sierra Club in 1987, and has since grown into an official 501(c)3 non-profit advocacy group, acting not only as the voice of bicyclists, but a protector of their rights.
“We needed to evolve to reflect the changing bicycle movement and who’s bicycling and why,” said Executive Director Andy Hanshaw. “We’ve always been a recreational hub here – we’ve got the coast, we’ve got the bay, we’ve got trails and things like that – but we’ve also got a growing population of transportation riders and commuters. … Our organization needed to evolve to serve both of those populations.”
Hanshaw credits Bogota, Columbia with starting the CicloSDias movement.
“They shut down certain parts of the city to cars and opened it up to active movements: biking, walking – any sort of activity – playing in the streets, for a certain amount of time so people could get the idea that our streets are really about all modes of travel and all types of users,” he said.
SDCBC worked with City officials on the CicloSDias map, which consists of a 5.2-mile route that begins in City Heights and makes its way down 30th Street in North Park, South Park and Golden Hill, all the way to Logan Heights, with a short loop at Fern Street.
“We think the communities that the route showcases were probably the primary motivation for [the route],” he said. “These are great urban San Diego communities representing a wide range of people and a lot of areas where people like to bicycle, too.”
SDCBC is encouraging all businesses along the route to actively participate in the six-hour event. Pedestrians, their children and even their animals are also invited to attend.
“The key goal is to patronize the businesses,” Hanshaw explained. “There are no official vendors for this event; the point is the movement and the journey. The businesses are the ones we hope will benefit.”
One thing Hanshaw said they want everyone to understand is that CicloSDias is not a race. There is no official starting point and no finish line; it is just five miles of open road to do whatever you wish outside of motor-vehicle activity.
Traffic will still be two directional and four hubs will serve as rest-stop areas. Though there will be no parking allowed on any of the streets involved during the six-hour period, Hanshaw said periodic crossing points will exist along the route so drivers can pass through the area into their own neighborhood. Parking alternatives will also be offered to those inconvenienced.
To help fund the expenses for its San Diego debut, SDCBC has established a crowd-funding webpage and hopes to raise $15,000. Visit fundly.com/ciclosdias for more information.
DecoBike of Florida, the company recently awarded the bike-share contract for San Diego set to begin in 2014, will also be on hand for the Aug. 11 event.
“We are very excited about participating in CicloSDias where we will be displaying our new bike share system,” said Colby Reese, chief marketing officer. “It’s going to be a great community-driven event for San Diego that enables residents to enjoy cycling, rollerblading and walking in an open-street format while having fun shopping, dining and enjoying the outdoors without worrying about cars and trucks trying to dominate the roadways.”
Hanshaw said he feels the growing popularity of these events demonstrates that people want to move about in a car-free and safe environment.
“It’s a bold statement if you really think about it,” he said, adding that he hopes to grow the event to several days per year, the way L.A. and San Francisco currently operate.
“These types of things are popping up all over the country and it’s nice to see [San Diego] embrace the idea that we should get on board with this,” he said.