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'Streets for People' Modeled After 'Ciclovia'

Streets for People in Fairfax this Sunday was inspired by Ciclovia, an open streets event in Columbia that cities around the world are modeling.

The upcoming is an event modeled after a successful car-free program in Colombia. Ciclovia is a program that started in Bogota, Colombia more than 30 year ago. Every Sunday, 70 miles of roadway are closed, allowing two million participants to safely ride bicycles, walk, dance, eat and celebrate the city free from cars.

Gil Penalosa, one of Ciclovia’s founders describes such events as “releasing the energy of the streets back to the people.” Hundreds of cities around the world now feature their own versions of car-free weekends, including San Francisco’s Sunday Streets.

Sustainable Fairfax, the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Fairfax and Fairbuck are collaborating to bring Streets to People to Fairfax.  , providing residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy shopping, outdoor dining, live music, and activities for children.  Local businesses will provide free services including back-to-school haircuts, mini-bicycle tune-ups, street photo portraits, dance and yoga.

According to Renee Goddard, the creator of the Fairfax event, the goal is to “create community resiliency and positive spirit, while celebrating what makes Fairfax unique.” The concept of placemaking is an important aspect of the event which Goddard describes as “creating beautiful and vibrant places within the urban environment.” The event will feature a street mandala, and a demo of a street parklet (parking spots transformed into small urban parks). 

“The Scoop and the benches outside are an excellent example of the positive effects of making a place for people. I think many folks would describe sitting outside the Scoop eating ice cream watching children park their bikes at the rack and enjoying shopping at the Variety Store as one of the happiest places to be in town,” Goddard said. 

Streets for People will bring the same spirit to downtown Fairfax.

The event is expected to generate business for local shops as well.  Studies show that local businesses benefit from increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic along the routes.  This event will provide a model for how cities can make space to provide healthy, environmentally-friendly outdoor activities alongside shopping and dining opportunities for residents and visitors.

To learn more about the event, or to volunteer for the event, please visit www.sustainablefairfax.org, or join the event on Facebook.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stacy August 24, 2012 at 02:29 AM
This will be a wonderful event for Fairfax. I look forward to it!
Rachel McKay August 24, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Sounds like fun!
Holly August 24, 2012 at 04:49 AM
I love this concept. Definitely something to celebrate!
tony masi August 24, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Ummm... I don't know about this. The insomnia-fueled cynic in me feels as if I'm being sold a social re-engineering concept under the guise of better business for Fairfax. I say test it out, but gather feedback from the merchants involved to measure its success. And I don't want to be snarky, but the Scoop is a successful and popular business primarily because of their ice cream, not because of the benches nearby. If the Scoop wasn't there, I don't think people would be quite as happy just sitting there on the benches watching children park their bikes. To use the Scoop as an argument supporting street closures seems a little skewed. It's kind of like the chicken and the egg. What comes first? A thriving business that caters to the needs of the community? Or an expansive people-friendly space that can ultimately serve as some form of social hub for gathering? I'm not sure, but the quotes attributed to Renee Goddard within this promotional piece strike me as primarily spin without substance. Let's let the test of this event speak for itself. The bottom line in my view is whether this will generate more revenue for a struggling Fairfax.
John Ferguson August 24, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I doubt that revenue from this single event can serve as the sole measure of success. Sure, poll the merchants but don't make that the single deciding factor on judging this event a success. What we want to do is provide an environment that is conducive to exploration. Poll people on how satisfied they were with the event and how likely they would be to return for the next one. I would argue that it's the confluence of many factors that drive merchant success anywhere. To pick up on the article's example, it's not because the Scoop has the best ice cream (it's good enough..) or because there are benches, or because it's in downtown Fairfax. It's all these things combined and more. It takes more than water to make a garden grow..
AKC August 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Oh how I wish I were a Fairfaxian. This little town town has more charm and energy than many towns/cities double and triple its size!
Mari August 24, 2012 at 05:59 PM
This blog post makes me want to cry, both happy and sad tears, for several reasons.
tony masi August 24, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Closing the street is an experiment to see if the town can realisticly move toward making that stretch of road a permanent vehicle-free greenway. If the goal of the road closure is to make the attendees happy, then I will concede that as a given before the fact. If the goal is to "create community resiliency and positive spirit, while celebrating what makes Fairfax unique", then I would suggest that could be more easily accomplished by increasing participation in Town Council meetings; although, I fully admit that I really don't know exactly what the aforementioned quote is referring to in regards to observable and measurable reality. I'm guessing that the true goals involve both quality of life and business issues. However, since the road closure directly affects downtown business, I would think feedback from the surrounding businesses would be of primary concern. After all, it's an experiment. It doesn't have to be the only one. I would just like to be assured that street closures promote our local merchants, as claimed, rather than detract from them.
Rico August 25, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I remember back on a (rare) hot summer day back in 1968 when they closed down Haight St. to cars. I was there and it was a blast, so, this is nothing new at all, that was 42 years ago.
Rico August 26, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Excuse me, I mean't 44 years ago. Sorry.
John Ferguson August 29, 2012 at 05:55 PM
So what's the feeling a few days after the event? I thought it was cool, I was only there for a few minutes but I could see that lots of folks were there, traffic seemed not to be an issue, everyone seemed relatively content with it. Let's do it monthly!
Jessica Mullins (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 06:05 PM
John, I think you're psychic. I'm actually working on an update on Streets for People right now (with information from the PD about how traffic was). Look for it this afternoon or first thing tomorrow morning.
Jessica Mullins (Editor) August 30, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Here's our follow-up article on Streets for People: http://patch.com/A-xwhT. (Includes information from the police and local businesses that saw sales double.) The organizers want to hear what people thought of the event, so please add your feedback to the comments section.
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