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Trenton Holds its First Ciclovia

October 14th, 2019 by

Kids bikingDo you have memories of riding your bike or playing basketball in the street as a kid? Well, that is exactly what kids, and adults alike, had the opportunity to do during Trenton’s first Ciclovia last month. 

“Ciclovia” (pronounced “seek – low – VEE – uh”) means bikeway in Spanish. Ciclovias or Open Streets Festivals are programs that temporarily open streets to people and close them to cars. Pedestrian traffic replaces car traffic and the streets become ‘paved parks’, where people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds can come out and improve their health. Ciclovia is a movement that originated in Bogota, Colombia back in the 1970s, but has been adopted by many cities in the United States including New Jersey (New Brunswick won a Complete Streets Excellence Award for its Ciclovia this year).

This time, it was Trenton’s turn

Ciclovia booth with people talking

A coalition of partners led by Tri-State Transportation Campaign planned the festival to encourage biking and walking and reclaim the streets for people. New Jersey Future participated in the planning effort as the convener of the city’s Green Team, one of the many partners that helped make the event happen. 

Other cities can do this too. But why? 

In Trenton, nearly 1 in 2 children ages 3-18 years are overweight or obese. Furthermore, Trenton children between ages 3-5 have an obesity rate that is more than twice the national average. 

Too often, most of our day-to-day routine of traveling to and from work or school is spent behind the wheel of a car. Add on preparing for work or school the next day and cooking dinner, and there is often not much time left to get active and moving. If there is time, maybe you do not live close enough to a park or gym. Maybe the walk or bike ride to the park or gym is unsafe. 

Man on tall bike

By removing the car from the equation for the day, Ciclovia provides an opportunity for neighbors to (re)connect, have fun, and talk about ways their streets can become important public health solutions.

Complete streets, roadways designed for all people that prevent flooding through green infrastructure, allow our streets to double as safe places for people to exercise, recreate, or consider alternative methods of travel. An increased culture of biking and walking can have a positive impact on businesses as well by providing their customers additional (and healthier) options for reaching their destinations.

Trenton has taken the first step to make this a reality. Will your town be next?

Watch a video about Trenton’s Ciclovia below.

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