Also published in the San Anselmo-Fairfax PATCH, August 23, 2012
The upcoming “Streets for People” in Fairfax this Sunday is an event modeled after a successful car-free program in Colombia. Ciclovia is a program that started in Bogota, Colombia more than 30 year ago. Every Sunday, 70 miles of roadway are closed, allowing two million participants to safely ride bicycles, walk, dance, eat and celebrate the city free from cars.
Gil Penalosa, one of Ciclovia’s founders describes such events as “releasing the energy of the streets back to the people.” Hundreds of cities around the world now feature their own versions of car-free weekends, including San Francisco’s Sunday Streets.
Sustainable Fairfax, the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Fairfax and Fairbuck are collaborating to bring Streets to People to Fairfax. Bolinas Road between Broadway and Elsie Lane will be closed to traffic, providing residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy shopping, outdoor dining, live music, and activities for children. Local businesses will provide free services including back-to-school haircuts, mini-bicycle tune-ups, street photo portraits, dance and yoga.
According to Renee Goddard, the creator of the Fairfax event, the goal is to “create community resiliency and positive spirit, while celebrating what makes Fairfax unique.” The concept of placemaking is an important aspect of the event which Goddard describes as “creating beautiful and vibrant places within the urban environment.” The event will feature a street mandala, and a demo of a street parklet (parking spots transformed into small urban parks).
“The Scoop and the benches outside are an excellent example of the positive effects of making a place for people. I think many folks would describe sitting outside the Scoop eating ice cream watching children park their bikes at the rack and enjoying shopping at the Variety Store as one of the happiest places to be in town,” Goddard said.
Streets for People will bring the same spirit to downtown Fairfax.
The event is expected to generate business for local shops as well. Studies show that local businesses benefit from increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic along the routes. This event will provide a model for how cities can make space to provide healthy, environmentally-friendly outdoor activities alongside shopping and dining opportunities for residents and visitors.
To learn more about the event, or to volunteer for the event, please visit www.sustainablefairfax.org, or join the event on Facebook.