Article Published: Aug. 1 | Modified: Aug. 5
Bicycles, skateboards and other modes of human propulsion will fill the streets of downtown Boone this weekend for the third annual Cyclo.Via community ride event Sunday, Aug. 4.
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., portions of Howard, Depot and River streets will be stripped of cars, buses and motorcycles to promote a rider-friendly and safe environment for bicyclists, as well as any other form of human-powered transportation.
The purpose of the event is to give residents an opportunity to “see part of the town they are normally driving through and not spending time in,” organizer JoLynn Mahoney said.
“We wanted to mirror what goes on in Colombia (South America) every Saturday, when 70 miles of street are closed so people can come out and ride their bikes,” Mahoney said.
The event is also a way to promote cycling in the High Country.
“One thing that we hear why people don’t ride their bikes is because of the traffic, and rightly so,” Mahoney said. “The event is geared to give people confidence and to draw people in.”
Mahoney said the event is sponsored by Boone Area Cyclists, which is a regional cycling club that encourages riding in all demographics regardless of ability and riding style. BAC is also dedicated to community advocacy and safety, she said.
“We also want to get kids on bikes, so we can perpetuate that,” Mahoney said.
The community component of the event is also a lure.
“The whole point is to have people come out, see what the community has to offer and to also be moving,” she said. “We are mindful of wellness and taking care of ourselves and showing our kids there is much to do to be active in Boone and so many groups to support that.”
In addition to the bipedal workout, the event will showcase three BMX shows, an African drum dance, adult tricycle competitions, food vendors, Zumba lessons and martial arts performances.
The event is friendly themed fun, Mahoney said.
“Elkland Art Center is providing all the decorations, which are sort of whimsical art stuff that to me, looks like Dr. Seuss,” she said.
In addition, local businesses, individuals and nonprofits will be on hand to demonstrate, instruct and answer questions.
“Cyclovia” is a Spanish word that translates as “bike path” — anything from oily asphalt bike lanes or a winding traverse through the mountains.
The Cyclo.Via event began in the 1970s in Bogota, Colombia, because of a lack of free green space. Instead of investing in a park or reservoir, the town roped off 70 miles of road for six hours every Sunday so people could make use of the pavement without fear of cars.
In previous Boone events, participants upgraded their bicycles to distribute flowers, pull logs, power blenders for smoothies and pull wheelchairs, among other sundry activities. Jugglers, scooters and skateboarders also made an appearance, upping the ante for creative displays, from miming to parkour to Frisbee to busking.
Last year’s event drew approximately 1,500 people, Mahoney said, and BAC is expecting a similar number on Sunday.
As for parking, Mahoney encourages attendees to utilize Appalachian State University campus lots, which are open on Sunday. Ideally, though, she’d like to see folks choose an appropriate alternative. “We’re encouraging people to ride their bikes,” she said.