Clearwater closing Cleveland Street for car-free Sunday Ciclovia

CLEARWATER

Picture urban streets without the hot engines, noise and smelly fumes of cars, trucks and buses.

Instead they are filled with bikers, skaters, joggers and dog walkers, safe from the threat of vehicular traffic.

It's a fresh idea, one that is coming to Clearwater's Cleveland Street in a free event called Sunday Ciclovia (pronounced see-cloh-VEE-uh).

"It's a Spanish word meaning 'cycle path,' " said Tammy Vrana, the city's community development coordinator. "It's a movement that began over 30 years ago in Bogotá, Colombia, and is spreading all over the world."

"We believe we are the second in the state to do this. Miami began a Ciclovia in November 2008 and has been having them every month since," she said.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, 2 miles of Cleveland Street, from the waterfront to Hillcrest Avenue, as well as an adjoining portion of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, will be closed to motor traffic. Vehicles may cross the roadway at five designated intersections.

Clearwater police will monitor traffic and "street marshals," volunteers in yellow event T-shirts, will answer questions and make sure things run smoothly.

Free fitness classes will be held along the route and include tai chi, aerobics, Zumba, martial arts and Pilates. Some will be held in Clearwater's new Station Square Park. Soccer and unicycle demonstrations are also planned.

The street festival — timed to kick off Florida Bicycle Month — is designed to connect the East Gateway neighborhood and the downtown business districts.

"We wanted to do some community building in this diverse neighborhood. It's a way for people to get outside and meet their neighbors," Vrana said. "And it's part of a push to make downtown Clearwater a destination for the region."

Businesses along the route are encouraged to be open and tie in to the health and fitness theme when possible, she said.

There will be bike valet areas for those who want to check in their two-wheelers and shop, eat, socialize or take part in a fitness class.

Automobile parking is free at the Harborview Center, Clearwater City Hall, the Garden Avenue parking garage, St. Cecelia Catholic School and on side streets.

Hands On Bicycle, 1453 Gulf to Bay Blvd., will provide travelers' aid to cyclists who may need it.

Bella Pucci will offer a watering station and baggies for dogs.

"People should come and enjoy a spring day," Vrana said, "and see our downtown in a whole new way."

Got a Diversions idea? Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

If you go

Sunday Ciclovia

What: Bike, run, skate or walk the dog during Ciclovia, Clearwater's car-free event.

Cost: Free admission

Where: Cleveland Street from the waterfront to Hillcrest Avenue and an adjoining portion of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.

When: Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information: Visit www.myclearwater.com/carfreesunday or call (727) 562-4047. For information in Spanish, call (727) 562-4550.

Clearwater closing Cleveland Street for car-free Sunday Ciclovia 02/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 26, 2009 5:14pm]

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