Open Streets Corvallis is part of a larger movement that finds its origins in the Ciclovías of Bogotá, Colombia. Since the mid 1970s, each Sunday, from 7 am to 2 pm, some of the Bogotá streets close down to motorcycles, cars, buses, and trucks, and open up to people walking, running, skating and biking, among other forms of non-motorized forms of transportation. A typical Sunday attracts 1.7 million people to these dedicated city streets. Eliza Barclays, writing for VOX, described eloquently the first time she experienced a Ciclovia Sunday in Bogotá:
Last summer, I walked from my hotel down a hill to Carrera Séptima, a wide avenue where men on Italian road bikes zoomed past teenagers on mountain bikes. Grannies on rusted cruisers glided alongside dog walkers. Together, they formed a torrent broken only when a few people periodically peeled off to sip papaya juice from a vendor on the sidewalk.
This vivid account coincides with my own experience having been to a Ciclovia Sunday in Bogotá in the early 2000s. Coming from Florida, where in many cases urban planners designed cities for cars and in doing so ignored people and denied the possibility of alternative forms of transportation, I was delighted to see not only people moving by their own means, but also people connecting with each other and building community through simple social interaction. I dreamed of that model for the Florida cities I knew. A few years later, visiting Santiago, Chile, I was surprised to find that the city had implemented the Ciclovía model in the form of their own CicloRecreoVía. On Sundays mornings, 40 kilometers of Santiago’s streets open up to individuals, couples, friends and entire families, strolling down the streets, jogging, biking and exercising in multiple ways. I could see happiness in people´s faces, in streets where during week days there is nothing but cars, buses, noise and smog.
Now Corvallis has joined the movement together with other cities in Oregon, the United States and the world. We are building a consciousness that places the human being at the center of the urban experience. But we are also building a strong community by providing a space, albeit only once a year, for people to express themselves, engage with each other, be physically active and enjoy a happy Sunday. Nothing can be simpler but at the same time nothing can be more valuable than that.
To learn about the Open Streets/Ciclovías movement, visit these online resources:
“Bogotá Closes its Streets on Sunday. Now Everyone Wants to Do it.” https://www.vox.com/2016/10/9/13017282/bogota-ciclovia-open-streets
Ciclovías, Bogotá, Colombia: http://www.streetfilms.org/ciclovia/
CicloRecreoVía, Santiago, Chile: http://www.ciclorecreovia.cl
Sundays Streets, Eugene: https://www.eugene-or.gov/1666/About
St Louis Open Streets, St Louis, Missouri: https://www.stlopenstreets.com
The Open Streets Project: http://openstreetsproject.org
Photo credit: By MacAllenBrothers – https://www.flickr.com/photos/micahmacallen/62525764/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=806389
Ricardo B. Contreras
Ricardo is an applied anthropologist, native of Chile and resident of Corvallis since 2014. He contributes to Open Streets Corvallis through the coordination of the initiative´s research and evaluation component. Ricardo is the CEO of Ethnographica Consulting and has an Instructor appointment with Anthropology at Oregon State University.