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Tucson celebrates 20th anniversary Cyclovia

A+child+rides+his+bike+for+Cyclovia+on+Oct.+29.+During+the+event%2C+certain+roads+were+closed+for+pedestrians+and+bikers+to+freely+ride.
Celeste Lizarraga
A child rides his bike for Cyclovia on Oct. 29. During the event, certain roads were closed for pedestrians and bikers to freely ride.

Around 3 ½  miles of Tucson streets were closed off Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. by the Living Streets Alliance for its 20th Cyclovia Event — a family-friendly, eventful day with a mission to change the city for the better. 

LSA is a local nonprofit organization that helps advocate for the community, particularly on issues surrounding transportation or mobility. 

Patricia Schwartz is the lead project manager for LSA. They stress that despite its name, Cyclovia is not a race, and it is not exclusively for bikes; it is for anyone and everyone! 

“Whether you’d rather walk, have a stroller to push, are in a wheelchair or you want to skate. We really try to emphasize the multimodal aspect of it. There are lots of folks that form walking groups or even people that just bring out a chair and watch it happen,” Schwartz said. 

Cyclists and pedestrians ride along downtown Tucson for Cyclovia on Oct. 29. This year was the 20th Cyclovia Tucson event. (Celeste Lizarraga)

Their vision behind events such as Cyclovia is to show the public what streets that serve the community can look like. Cyclovia is a free event, full of free activities that do not require registration. One only needs to bring money to buy food from the local food trucks participating.   

“Envisioning a Tucson that is more walkable, more bikeable, easier to get around on the bus, streetcar or public transportation in general. We have a bunch of different programs. Cyclovia is our most visible program and the easiest way for folks to plug into the mission and participate in a day of envisioning how our streets can be different,” Schwartz said.

Cyclovia occurs twice a year and has grown to host around 40,000 people per event. One can adjust the event according to their needs. There is no official start or finish and no rules for how many times one should bike or walk the trail, if at all. It is completely up to the people attending how they choose to participate in Cyclovia.  

“Basically, it’s part of a global movement. The main movement is open streets, and they all look different depending on the city. Ours is heavily programmatic. We have 100-plus different community organizations and local businesses,” Schwartz said. 

“This route we’ve been working really closely with the Amphi neighborhood, which is the Northernmost neighborhood on the route. It’s a super diverse neighborhood. It has 32 different languages spoken there, and one of the biggest refugee populations in Tucson. My favorite part is getting to work with, learn from, and also see how the different neighborhoods, cultures and the energies they have shape how the route looks,” Schwartz said. 

Noel Hennessey, the director of ENGAGED at the University of Arizona College of Engineering, and her family, who attended this past Sunday, have been participating in Cyclovia for the past seven years.

People park their bikes in a lot during Cyclovia on Oct. 29. The day started at 9 a.m. and finished around 3 p.m. (Celeste Lizarraga)

“We really like [Cyclovia] because it makes it a safer place to show our kids not only how to ride a bike but what is here in the community. For us, it is really important to have some streets closed occasionally. We would like to see better bike infrastructure and safer streets for everybody to be able to not be so car-dependent,” Hennessey said. 

Tatum Faber and Annie Coyle also attended this year’s Cyclovia event, and both claim it won’t be their last. 

“We are having a great time. I attended once before, and I had a lot of fun. It was a nice way to get out and spend the day,” Faber said. 

“I think it’s awesome. I feel like there should be more of an opportunity for people to get around via human-powered ways. I think this is a great way to give people space for that and incentivize people to do that more,” Coyle said. 

Cyclovia 2023 featured games like ‘Cinco for Cyclovia’ bingo, field games, giveaways, free health screenings, live performances and DJs. If you missed it this year, be sure to check out and support Tucson’s next big Cyclovia event with friends and family!


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