Cyclovia Bradenton to encourage people to get out of cars

A young cyclist pedals down Gulf Drive on the north end of Anna Maria Island Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article68160152.html#storylink=cpy
A young cyclist pedals down Gulf Drive on the north end of Anna Maria Island Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article68160152.html#storylink=cpy Bradenton Herald file

A major Manatee County roadway will be closed to vehicle traffic next spring to encourage people to get out of their cars and recognize other modes of transportation such as biking and walking during the first Cyclovia Bradenton.

“The beauty of Cyclovia is it encourages people to get out and about and out of their cars and use the streets in a different way,” said Colleen McGue with Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, one of the event organizers. She added the event also would bring attention to pedestrian and bicycle crashes and fatalities.

Cyclovia, which is based on the Spanish word for cycle path, is an event where a street is closed to vehicles to allow for biking, walking and other activities, according to the Cyclovia Tampa Bay website..

Manatee County received a $5,000 grant from the Knight Foundation’s Emerging City Champions Program for Cyclovia Bradenton, which will take place either the last Sunday of March or first Sunday of April next year. The event will be part of the second Manatee Millennial Conference.

“I think it is something that highlights our area,” said Ogden Clark with Manatee Millennial Movement. “Our city is being recognized, and the young people in our area are starting to do things to make it a place where people want to live.”

Modeled off the event, which happens every Sunday in Bogota, Colombia, a street in Manatee County will be shut down from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a Sunday to encourage people to walk and bike. While the street hasn’t been selected yet, county officials and the MPO are working with Florida Department of Transportation on permitting, according to McGue.

“We are looking to make a big impact,” she said. “It will be a major road, probably a state road.”

There will probably be some traffic rerouting, but McGue said they want to have “the visual impact of people walking in the street on a major road.”

“It will help people see the street in a different way and take ownership of it in an active transportation way, more than a passive sitting-in-your-car way,” she said.

A potential street to be used is U.S. 41 by the universities since it is in the Southwest Tax Increment Financing District.

“We are trying to highlight areas that can be revitalized by making them more pedestrian and bicycle friendly,” Clark said.

The event also ties in with the county rewrite of the land development code to make redevelopment along the urban corridors easier, McGue said.

“Just bringing attention to active transportation and also bringing attention to the fatalities and injuries that are happening here in our community,” she said. “Getting that conversation started about redevelopment opportunities, whether from a transportation perspective or a land-use perspective.”

At next year’s millennial conference, they are going to be talking about housing and transportation, so this event fits right in, Clark said.

“We hear a lot of people talking about traffic, talking about needing their cars to get everywhere,” he said. “This is something that is going to highlight the walkability and bicycle friendly areas that we have. If we are going to grow and do it smart, we are going to need to talk about how to get around town and re-envision transportation in areas that are not right now bicycle or pedestrian friendly.”

Claire Aronson: 941-745-7024, @Claire_Aronson