Annual cycling event Ciclovia put on hold

After a 10-year run the annual Winnipeg cycling event, Ciclovia, is being put on hold this year, an organizer says.

After 10 years it's time for a rethink, organizers say

Ciclovia, an event that closed down Winnipeg streets and lanes so that people could cycle freely, is being put on hold. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

After a 10-year run the annual Winnipeg cycling event, Ciclovia, is being put on hold this year, an organizer says.

"It never really was what we sort of envisioned for Ciclovia, or a true Ciclovia," said Dave Elmore, chair of Bike Week Winnipeg, which hosted the event last year.

"We've decided to hold off on doing a Ciclovia until such time that we actually can do this properly."

In its early years, Elmore says, the event closed down a portion of Broadway on a Sunday in September so that cyclists could ride around freely.

After three years it partnered with Downtown Winnipeg Biz and became part of ManyFest, a street festival with food trucks, craft markets and entertainment.

In the past, Ciclovia was part of ManyFest on Broadway but Dave Elmore, chair of Bike Week Winnipeg, says the street became too crowded to be a true Ciclovia. (ManyFest)

"Essentially, what was happening is that ManyFest had kind of swallowed up Ciclovia," Elmore said. "There was just too many people and it was just too crowded for people to ride up and down the street and enjoy it."

Last June Ciclovia was moved to The Forks to coincide with Bike Week Winnipeg events with thousands of people attending, Elmore says. But again, Ciclovia became enveloped instead of the event that had been envisioned.

'In a true Ciclovia there would be no cars'

Ciclovia, which gets its name from the Spanish term for "cycleway," was supposed to be modelled on a weekly event in Bogota, Colombia, Elmore says. That event sees more than 100 kilometres of road closed to all but cyclists and pedestrians.

"In Bogota, it's all about open streets, or streets that are completely open to people and closed to cars," he said.

Currently, four Winnipeg streets limit vehicle traffic on Sundays and holidays each summer from Victoria Day through Thanksgiving.

Sections of Scotia Street, Lyndale Drive, Wellington Crescent and Wolseley Avenue are reserved for cyclists from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but they aren't closed. Instead, traffic is limited to just one block for those who still need to access the area.

Elmore says those closures don't really allow for a true Ciclovia.

"People still are allowed to use the street," he said. "They're supposed to drive only one block and then turn and get off of the street, but I think most of us who have used those streets … know that that's not necessarily what happens.

"In a true Ciclovia there would be no cars on those streets."

Organizers hope to rethink the event and figure out a way to make it meet its original vision.

They plan to work with the city to figure out what kind of street closures may be possible in the future, and would also need to raise money to cover costs.


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