Ciclovia Comes to Milwaukee
A community biking event created in Colombia and launched in U.S. cities, it comes here August 29.
The first Ciclovía MKE event — for bikers and walkers — is coming to Milwaukee Saturday, August 29th. Translated from Spanish, Ciclovía actually means “open streets” or “bike path.” It’s a concept that originated in Colombia and has already been hosted nationwide in cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. This will be the first of what its planners hope will be many Ciclovía events in Milwaukee.
The chosen route, from Greenfield Ave. north to Washington St. on Cesar Chavez Dr., then east on Washington St. up to Barclay St. and ending at the opening of the KK River Trail, will be closed off to cars but will allow walkers and cyclists.
Ciclovía MKE is made possible through the collaboration of many local organizations including The Cesar E. Chavez BID, NEWaukee, the Wisconsin Bike Fed, and the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative. Ivan Gamboa, board member of the BID and representative of The Farm Project, describes the event as an opportunity to connect neighborhoods. “It’s kind of like an open house for neighborhoods. Maybe people who wouldn’t normally go by Chavez Drive will check it out,” he says.
The route was chosen, Gamboa says, with a view to connecting communities on the South Side. The route connects Walker Square, Walker’s Point, Clarke Square, and the KK River Bike Trail. Businesses along the route will set up stands in the streets to create an Outdoor Market.
Plans have been in the works since the beginning of the year. Gamboa says Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works and Licensing Division have been helpful in making the event come to fruition. The event has a budget of $25,000; most of it was spent on permits and promotion.
Ciclovía is being promoted through a number of organizations and it’s difficult to predict the turnout that will come from the first event of its kind in Milwaukee. The event is family friendly. The Dental Associates parking lot at 1135 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. will serve as a children’s area for the day. It will be filled with inflatables and games to entertain children who may not be as interested in the local business set up on the sidewalks.
The area will also host a soccer clinic and Lotería. Lotería is exactly like the game of bingo, but with Mexican characters on the spaces instead of squares designated by coordinates. Although characters have Spanish names: el gallo, el diablito, and la dama (the rooster, the devil, and the lady, respectively) players needn’t know the language – there are pictures. Gamboa says it’s another opportunity for people in surrounding communities to try something new.
And that’s the whole point. Ciclovía MKE is an opportunity for community members and families to get outdoors, exercise, and meet your Milwaukee neighbors.
The route will be closed to traffic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 29. Cesar Chavez Drive will remain blocked off until 5 p.m.