This May, El Paso is taking parks to the streets with Ciclovia. Every Sunday morning from 7am to 11am, Ciclovia gives the people of El Paso back their roads. Motor vehicles are detoured from the route allowing everyone the freedom to enjoy the outdoors- safely. Ciclovia is more than a ride, it’s more than a bike lane and it’s bigger than any park we could build. It is an opportunity to change the lives of El Pasoans, bringing them outside, to parts of town they may have never seen before and in ways they’ve never traveled.
El Paso, Texas is a great and unique city facing some major quality of life issues:
– Our economy is struggling. We face severe levels of poverty in our neighborhoods. In fact, the 79901 zip code (Downtown and South Central El Paso) is among the poorest zip codes in the United States. (US Census Data)
– Our population suffers from obesity and diabetes in remarkably high rates. Nearly 68% of our women and 77% percent of our men are obese and over 10% of our population has diabetes. (Pan American Health Organization)
– El Paso needs more outdoor recreation. El Paso only has 25% of the parkland that the average US city our size has. Furthermore, most El Pasoans live more than half a mile from their nearest park. (Halff and Associates)
– El Paso is currently not “bike-friendly”. There are only 57 miles of bike lanes in our community.
City leaders were faced with the challenge: How do we get a poor city of overweight sedentary people moving when there aren’t any parks or bike lanes? The answer: Being proactive and “Taking Parks to the Streets” with Ciclovia. The concept was developed in Bogota, Colombia and it got their entire city up and moving. Nearby, just across the border, our sister city of Juarez, Chihuahua in Mexico implemented a short- lived Ciclovia with stellar results as well- 60,000 people per Sunday. Therefore, in 2005, El Paso made the commitment to be the first American city to implement a Ciclovia.
After a year of planning and set backs because of natural disasters, El Paso is finally ready to roll. We are ready to make history!Over $98,000 was donated from the private sector to make this event happen, people are excited. Texas Governor Rick Perry has already hailed the efforts of El Paso, Texas and is planning to include Ciclovia as part of the Texas Roundup Fitness Program.