Ciclovia Pensacola Opens Downtown Streets To Cyclists & Strollers Saturday

Mar 20, 2017

Ciclovia means 'bikeway' is Spanish and 'bike path' in Portuguese. It also means a lot of people will be out biking and walking and skating through a five miles of road in downtown Pensacola Saturday. Sally Rosendalh is one of the co-founders of Pensacola Open Streets, the people bringing Ciclovia to Pensacola.

"[Ciclovia] comes from Bogota, Columbia, actually. They started it 40 years ago there to try to get their people healthier. They have tremendous traffic problems there and they wanted to provide a safe place for people to recreate. So they began closing the streets on Sunday, Sunday morning, every week. And allowing people to bring their bicycles, their strollers, their skates, their skateboards and their own two feet. Actually all you need is a heartbeat to come out and get moving."

Rosendahl and her husband learned about Ciclovia while spending a winter in Panama City where streets are closed every Sunday morning. She says hundreds of thousands come out and enjoy the event.  "On 9 a.m. on March 25 [Pensacola] can legitimately add [its] name to an elite group of progressive cities around the world that have had ciclovias and are looking at health and wellness with a different set of eyes."

Palafox Place from Garden Street to the pier will be closed to motor vehicles from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, as will Bayfront Parkway/Main Street from the Gulf Power building to Maritime Park. There will be activities all along the route including "Smoothie Bikes" near Garden Street and Palafox. These are bikes that have blenders attached that are operated by pedal power. Food trucks will also be operating in areas on the route that have no permanent restaurants. These trucks will not be allowed to serve fried foods or sugary drinks and a fruit or vegetable must accompany every meal. Maritime Park will also be open and organizers are encouraging people with bring blankets, chair and healthy snacks to enjoy the day.

Rosendahl says there will be three helmet stations set up along the route where cyclists, regardless of age or size can be fitted for a new helmet free of charge. And the event is not open to just cyclists. "You can stroll, walk, run, bike, skateboard, skate. Everything that doesn't have a motor and requires a license plate is welcome on the event."

There will also be three parklets set up on Palafox Place. Those are miniature parks the size of a single parking space and will be set up by Jerry Pate Design and decorated by Duh. The University of West Florida is also getting involved. "The students in Dr. Barrington's class at UWF [will be conducting] a survey and asking people 'would they have exercised today?, they will ask them economic questions [like] 'did you find a restaurant or store that you didn't know was here before [and] did you spend money at the event?'"

And the results of that survey may influence the decision on having a second Ciclovia in Pensacola. For her part, Sally Rosendahl thinks it’s a no-brainer. "I always say that when you experience one, your only [question] is 'when can we do this again?'. There is just something about being in the middle of a street, a safe street, with other people having fun. It's truly a happy day."