Calle Ocho Will Turn Into Cyclist Haven This Sunday

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Ciclovía, a Spanish term for cycle path, is "the temporary closing of state roads to vehicles and replacing them with pedestrians and bicyclists who are using it for exercise or coming together as a community to celebrate music, art and sports" according to the recent press release by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The FDOT is co-hosting such events as "Open Streets" and so far, four Ciclovías have been enjoyed throughout the state with more to come.

The first of these kicked off in Orlando and Gainesville respectively and were followed by Tampa Bay and Ft. Myers. So far, the FDOT can boast turnouts of nearly 6000. And on Sunday, December 14, Miami will become the fifth city in the state to host one of their own. Calle Ocho, a street that's had its fair share of Critical Mass rides, will become for four hours (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) an oasis of calm and community spirit between Southwest Ninth Ct. and 22nd Ave.

See also: Cranksgiving Returns: Join NBC's Today Team in the Fun Food Drive and Bike Ride

Organizers encourage families and individuals to bring "your bike and dancing shoes, a yoga mat and an instrument" in order to "experience all the best of this extraordinary Miami neighborhood." The FDOT, along with its community partners are also angling this cycling/pedestrian hybrid as an excellent shopping opportunity as neighborhood businesses will be open to the public as well as drawing from its famous festival with live music.

Imagining Calle Ocho free of cars is like imagining a Lincoln Road that smells like abuela's kitchen and with much better and way cheaper coffee.

Ciclovías pride themselves in turning "major city streets into safe and open, car-free environments for families to run, bike, play and be well together. Originating in Bogotá, Colombia over 30 years ago, Ciclovías are now held in hundred of cities worldwide" according to the Miami Bike Scene website. It also notes that a Ciclovía of sorts occurred back in 2008 and was called Bike Miami.

Some activities will include free bike helmets and fittings, yoga at the Domino Park at 10:30 a.m. (bring a mat!), Zumba, walking tours of Little Havana, food, art and bike polo across from the park on Sourthwest 15th Ave.

But as FDOT representative Trenda McPherson says, "It kinda helps us shift that culture to a more share-the-road-type culture." Miami won't become a sanctum sanctorum for cyclists (or pedestrians) any time soon, but with events like these responsible riders and the FDOT's embrace, steps are definitely being taken in the right direction.

For more information, please contact FDOT media outreach specialist Ivette Ruiz-Paz at 305-470-5225 or email her at ivette.ruiz-paz@dot.state.fl.us. More information on FDOT's Bicycle & Pedestrian Focused Initiative can be found at alerttodayflorida.com.

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