Bogota, Colombia has been a pioneer in what we now call Open Streets Days. The idea: close a street to car traffic on one day (often a Sunday) and let people walk, bike, play games, have festivals and more in the street itself. In Bogota, they call it the Ciclovia, and I had the joy of being present for one a few years ago. Pictures below:
Now, according to Sustainable Cities Collective, Bogota is set to try it for a whole week:
Bogotá’s car-free week has been possible only with the support of many parties, such as the Sura, Pacific Rubiales, Universidad Javeriana, Equión, Unilever, Diageo and Bolivar Insurance companies. Each party hopes this car-free week will accomplish something different: insurance companies see the push towards a car-free city as a way of saving lives; energy companies see bicycling as a way to save valuable finite fuel resources for critical uses; universities see a car-free city as a living example of how ecological thinking can make real-world impacts.
I'm not one to minimize the importance of the goals above, but I think that press release misses a key point: it's fun. The reason people like this is because it appeals to our sense of joy, whimsy and our desire to connect with others. Riding a bike or walking without fear of being run over by a vehicle is a very, very enjoyable way to spend some part of a day. The reason we don't do these things is that we've made it a chore, and sometimes flat-out dangerous. Cheers to Bogota for leading the way.