Ride Me is dedicated to the lifestyle and culture of living Car Free in Portland, Or. Traveling only by bike and public transit is a great way to get around the Rose City.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

To be... Car Free

There are more car free sections added to cities every day. I love it when I read something like this.
The Christina Science Monitor recently posted an article about the emergance of car free days in sections of cities from San Fransisco to Bogata, Columbia. "Cities across America are increasingly declaring that parks are for people, not cars, ... and closing roads within parks is one result of that," says Ben Welle with The Trust for Public Land's Center for City Park Excellence, in Washington. Resistance can be fierce at first, he and others say, because of worries about traffic congestion, parking problems, and loss of visitors for businesses and museums. But studies are showing that traffic problems can be minimized, shops and museums get more visitors, and residents begin to cherish their where-the-action-is location.

Across the world, this is a trend that is growing. You may remember my post last winter about the Lyon Protocol. Building sections of the city to be car free, Lyon is leading the world in car free living. In Bogotá, Colombia, which in 1983 embarked on a program called ciclovia (bike path), in which designated streets were closed to cars every Sunday but open for jogging, biking, dancing, playing ball, walking pets, strolling with babies – anything but driving. One-and-a-half million people now turn out each week for ciclovia. Other cities in Latin America followed suit, closing parts of parks or whole urban districts to cars – some intermittently, some permanently. A result: revitalized neighborhoods and an influx of people.

Even El Paso, Texas is getting in on the car free game. The El Paso Times reports that their weekly ciclovia participants proved that residents of the city are willing to support a safe and healthy activity that brings people together as a community, El Paso Mayor John Cook said.

I hope that Portland will begin to follow these leads. There has been a lot of talk lately on bikeportland.org about Portland's effort to become a platinum level cycling city. I think this is just the type of event to propel us into platinum status.


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