world naked bike ride: a two-wheeled revolution in CT

Submitted by incoming on Tue, 2012-03-20 22:13

A letter came across our desks recently, that needs sharing:

Dear editor,

The power of the bicycle was palpable in Cape Town (two weekends ago). It was inspiring to see the Argus Cycle Tour energy overtaking the city as usual. Even more exciting was to see hundreds of concerned citizens join the Cape Town leg of the World Naked Bike Ride on Saturday morning in a call for safer cycling, and sharing through their painted bodies important environmental and social concerns. (The World Naked Bike Ride is an international event driven by cyclists who meet and ride together to "deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world.”) What may seem to some as an eccentric event highlights the burning desire on the part of citizens to promote a bicycle friendlier-city and a more sustainable place to live.

There are many cities that provide great examples of how this is possible; Amsterdam is an often-cited example; however it might be interesting for some of your readers to hear that Bogota, my home city, has also succeeded in injecting its lifestyle with a heavy doses of cycling. In addition to having one of the most extensive networks of cycle paths in the world, Bogota pioneered the concept of “Ciclovia” which has spread not only to other cities in the country but also to several other Latin American cities. Ciclovia, which literally means “bike path” started informally in the 70s and has become the type of event many of us, Colombians, grew up to adopt as part of our weekend routine and cannot imagine not having!

Every Sunday from 6am to 2pm the major artery of the city which, among other things connects the wealthiest part of the city with less privileged neighborhoods, is shut down, all motorists are banned and people from all parts of the city come out for a morning of exercise. But it is not only about exercise; in fact, once a week -and on public holidays- ciclovia transforms an avenue normally overwhelmed with traffic, into a powerful public space where the city unfolds and takes on a new personality. From street vendors and artists to aerobics instructors and famous personalities, it is estimated that approximately 2 million people (30% of citizens) use ciclovias on over 100 km of car-free streets on a weekly basis.

After witnessing so many bicycles in action in Cape Town, it becomes clear that the city may be ready for something like this. A space where all Capetonians can congregate and for a few hours stop the traffic that not only pollutes the environment and the view, but that also prevents people from interacting with each other. Ciclovia was born over 30 years ago and it has required strong commitment from government and its citizens to see it grow in Bogota; considering how intrinsic cycling is to Cape Town, creating such a space will not take too long here. It is just a matter of utilizing the potential and passion of its citizens. Indeed, beyond the colorful and entertaining nature of it, the Cape Town Naked Bike Ride 2012 this weekend highlighted the strength citizens have when driving this agenda.

VIVA LA BICICLETA…long live the Bicycle!

By: Marcela Guerrero Casas

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