Last March 12,000 people crowded the downtown core for Ciclovia, part of a unique international movement that closes downtown streets to motorized traffic and opens them up for active community fun. This event encourages and promotes safe physical activity with others while offering the rare opportunity to walk, ride, run and skate downtown streets — without dodging automobiles.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Palafox Street, from Plaza de Luna to Garden Street, will close to motorized vehicles and open to bicyclists, pedestrians, runners, strollers, skateboarders and more. Also, Main Street from the Gulf Power building to Bruce Beach will be closed to cars and open to people.
“Every kid loves to play in the street, and so do adults,” said Ciclovia chairman Rand Hicks. “Ciclovia is about coming together to celebrate having fun, moving our bodies in a healthful way, and experiencing downtown in a unique fashion — without having to watch for cars. Ciclovia provides a safe place to enjoy our beautiful, growing and diverse community with our neighbors, wherever they happen to live.”
Music, vendors and fun events will be staged around the area, including a Kids Area at Plaza de Luna, health screenings and more. All of the activities organized by Ciclovia are free.
The primary goals include promoting public health, boosting our local economy, reducing pollution and showcasing downtown as a people-friendly space and a model for getting out of our cars and exercising.
“The reinvention of downtown Pensacola as a cool urban center is gaining momentum,” said Hicks. “Whatʼs striking now is the fast pace of residential development, which reflects the national trend. Events like Ciclovia underscore the importance of keeping downtown focused on the people who support its businesses, live in its homes and apartments, and who enjoy its ambiance.”
An estimated 12,000 people attended Ciclovia last year, up 20 percent from the first event in 2017. Organizers expect a similar jump this year.
Last year, according to survey data from the University of West Florida and Visit Pensacola, 56 percent of respondents discovered a new store or restaurant; contributed $567,000 in spending; and spent an average of $46.76.
“We are fortunate to have community leaders, both in the public and private sectors, who help make this possible,” Hicks said. “Weʼre grateful to Mayor Grover Robinson, the City of Pensacola and Pensacola Parks & Recreation for their enthusiastic support. It takes a lot of support from the City, from local businesses who donate money and services, government agencies who participate, and from dozens of volunteers doing hands-on work.”
This yearʼs primary partner is Humana. Substantial support also comes from WUWF, Dasani, WEAR-TV, Cat Country, Boyettʼs Portable Toilets, the City of Pensacola, Pensacola Parks & Recreation, Visit Pensacola, the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, rideOn, and the Pensacola Community Action Network.
“The turnout for our first two events made it clear that people embrace this event,” Hicks said. “Downtown Pensacola is a place people want to be, and they love to have fun walking or riding a bike on a safe street. And they want more events, not fewer, so we look forward to bringing people together at Ciclovia events in the future.”
To stay updated on Ciclovia 2019 and learn more about PensacolaOpenStreets, go to PensacolaOpenStreets.com or check our Facebook and Instagram pages, @PensacolaOpenStreets. Email us at PensacolaOpenStreets@gmail.com.