Bogota, Colombia is home to the largest, most successful ciclovia program in the world. Every Sunday and holiday, over 1 million people from all walks of life enjoy 120 km of open streets in the heart of this international capital city. Young and old walk, bicycle, rollerblade, exercise, meet and explore the city. It is like nothing else that I have ever seen.
Today in Bogota, I met with the Director of this program as part of an International Study Tour funded by the Dade Community and Kellog Foundations. Mr. Mauricio Ramos shared with my colleagues and I some of the extraordinary benefits this program has had for Colombia over the last 35 years. He spoke of spurred microenterprise, a new social cohesion and civic pride, improved physical and mental health, the critical importance of repurposing public space as a facilitator of social integration and how this has made his city a model for nearly one hundred cities worldwide. His words renewed in my the inspiration and dedication to bring ‘open streets’ to our communities in South Florida.
This week, while I am in Colombia, leaders in West Palm Beach are deciding a date in the Fall for the South Florida Bike Coalition and the Open Streets Project to coordinate our state’s second ciclovia. Next week, we will be meeting with leaders in Doral to discuss a similar event. This is our time! It is an exciting time for our movement to better our community through bicycling. Thank you for being a part of this.