Ciclovia events bring knowledge of a ‘livable’ city

by Matt Shinall, The Daily Tribune News

Presentations next week will bring a guest of international acclaim to Cartersville to discuss the benefits of biking and walking within an urban environment.

Gil Peñalosa, a livable city advisor, will lead a daytime workshop Monday, Jan. 31, on how to create and maintain a Ciclovia. As the former Commissioner of Parks, Sports and Recreation in Bogota, Columbia, Peñalosa initiated the first Ciclovia which promotes a healthier lifestyle and community by closing streets to cars within a designated district and inviting residents to bike or walk.

Sponsored by Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia, the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission and the Georgia Department of Transportation, Peñalosa’s visit will spell out the details behind Ciclovias, which have become a weekly event in Bogota and have since found success around the world.

“It really revitalized their downtown area and it has gone to several different cities around the world. The thought is, taking the time between about 1 and 5 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and creating an area downtown where people can walk and bike without having to deal with automobile traffic and creating almost like a fair-type atmosphere,” said event organizer David Kenemer, principal planner for NWGRC.

During Ciclovia in Bogota, restaurants and service industries remain open and street performers are brought in to create a festive atmosphere each week.

“Typically, Sunday afternoon after church most of our downtown areas are pretty much dead, there’s nothing going on, and this is a way to utilize that area and bring people together,” Kenemer said.

Following the daytime workshop will be another presentation in the evening geared more toward the general public interested in the benefits of cycling, walking and ‘livable’ cities.

“A livable city is basically a city that anyone from about age 8 to age 80 can easily get around from point-A to point-B by walking or biking. It’s cities that incorporate transit, sidewalks, crosswalks, areas where people can feel comfortable riding their bike, cities with a good police presence and a downtown where you feel comfortable with businesses you want to shop at,” Kenemer said.

Avid cyclist and Senior Code Enforcement Officer for the city of Cartersville Tim Jones looks forward to the information being shared next week as he commented on the benefits of such alternative transportation.

“This is fresh information for this part of the country. It will be interesting to see what the gentleman brings to the table so that we can learn how these are done around the country,” Jones said. “The benefits are great for your health and not bad for your wallet with the price of gas at $3 these days.

“It’s something that anyone can do. Once a kid is old enough to safely ride, and adults, you can get on a bike and go wherever you want to go.”

Throughout his travels, Jones has biked in cities across the country. Western states have been quicker to lessen their dependence on automobiles for transportation opening lanes for bikers and walkers in an effort to become more livable.

Referring to recent projects including the bike path at Sam Smith Park and new roads incorporating bike lanes such as Old Alabama Road, Jones is optimistic about the future for a more active lifestyle and community in and around Cartersville. Long-range plans include the connection of bike paths at Sam Smith Park with those at Atco Village.

“I hope that is something that is completed. It would be a great north-south connector like some of the trails you see in communities out west like Boulder and Seattle and some of these more progressive communities that do have a lot of cycling as a means of transportation,” Jones said.

Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia has co-sponsored several presentations over the past four years promoting various topics in the realm of alternative transportation and the promotion of active lifestyles.

Both presentations are free and will be held at the Cartersville Hilton Garden Inn, 24 Liberty Drive. The daytime workshop will last from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31. The evening presentation will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31. A second opportunity to view the evening program including a Spanish presentation will be held in Dalton on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at Dalton City Hall.

For more information contact Kenemer at 706-295-6485 or via e-mail at

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