Creatively building community

Boulder’s Green Streets borrows from a Columbian tradition


Though the general rule is not to play in the street for fear of cars, the pedestrians of Boulder will have the opportunity to take over a vehicular domain and do just that this coming weekend.

Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the east end of Pearl Street will be transformed into an urban playground for Boulder Green Streets’ second annual Ciclovia.

The idea for the Ciclovia originated in Bogotá, Columbia, where each Sunday, 70 miles of urban streets are closed down to give citizens a place to engage with their community. Though the Boulder Ciclovia is on a much smaller scale, only stretching from 15th to Folsom streets, the sentiment is the same.

“The theory in Bogotá is that humor and creativity create change,” says Hillary Griffith, the director of Boulder Green Streets. “In Boulder, we want to do something similar. We’re inviting the community to be imaginative and see what we could do with our city.”

The Ciclovia is not a festival, but rather a place for people throughout the community to come bike, run, skate, or enjoy many of the activities and food available in Boulder in a space not normally open to these kinds of offerings. The event is a way to show that urban roadways are not just for cars, and to cause people to rethink the use of public space.

For more active Boulderites, the event offers several meet-up locations for biking, running and hiking. Additionally, the Ciclovia will host a climbing wall, a kayak tank, yoga lessons and dance lessons ranging from Zumba to Bollywood style, all free of charge and taking place in the middle of Pearl Street.

A food pavilion will showcase natural, organic and eco-friendly products and restaurants. Vendors include Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Rush, Bhakti Chai and Horizon Organic.

Other events throughout the day include a free breakfast, a children’s bike parade, an eco-fashion show, a people-powered parade and a concert to end the day.

Boulder is one of the smallest communities to host a Ciclovia and is competing against the massive budgets of cities like Los Angeles and New York. However, Griffith sees the smaller scale as an advantage because the Ciclovia relies more on volunteers and is thus more representative of what Boulder is really about.

“A lot of this goes back to my initial inspiration — that creativity and humor create change,” Griffith says. “We’re trying not to take ourselves too seriously and have fun with it. We want to show what Boulder is, while also promoting change and seeing what Boulder could be.”

The Ciclovia is focused on promoting sustainability while also giving residents a chance to engage with one another and have a day to play — for free. The route will feature zero-waste stations, a Chautauqua series discussing issues of sustainability and free pedicabs to transport people along the route.

“Our goal is bringing the community together,” Griffith says. “It is also about focusing on health, showing people the benefits of cycling and walking as a form of transportation, showcasing the great organic and sustainable food available in Boulder, and pointing out conscious, positive and sustainable living practices.”

A similar message can be found at the Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins this weekend. The fair is a larger-scale version of Boulder Green Streets. It will host 250 vendors and exhibitors over the course of the weekend and convey a message of social responsibility and healthy, sustainable living. Day passes to the Sustainable Living Fair are $8 for adults and free for children under 12 years old.

Though the Boulder event is smaller, the Ciclovia team still expects to see 10,000 to 15,000 guests throughout the day. For more information on Boulder Green Streets, visit