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Via RecreActiva: A Transformative Ciclovia for Guadalajara

2:21 PM PST on January 12, 2012

Guadalajara, Mexico is showing how amazingly transformative a ciclovia-style road closure can be for its citizens. In seven years, their inaugural Sunday event Via RecreActiva has grown from just seven miles with 35,000 participants to 41 miles with 400,000 users every Sunday. It goes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and covers six municipalities.

The diversity of activities features traditional ciclovia staples like aerobic classes and music, but also some new wrinkles including free haircuts for children and a city that clearly knows how to hula hoop!

Another unique aspect of this story is that one of the forces behind the success of the Via RecreActiva is a civil association called Guadalajara 2020, a group of primarily made of  business owners, real estate people and entrepreneurs who envision Guadalajara to be a healthier, greener and more humane city.

That mission includes bringing better transit to the city, making it safer to walk & bike and create equality and empowerment among its people. Perhaps it is best put by Guadalajara 2020's President, José Palacios Jiménez, who told us:

"...we would like to be able to remove the cars from the entire city. Because with all the information we manage to get, we are able to understand that the biggest problem of humanity are the cars."

Guadalajara does feature  public spaces on par with the greatest in the world, but also faces many extraordinary challenges with horrible traffic and unsafe pedestrian environments on nearly every street.  It's refreshing to see business folks not only speaking out and understanding the real solutions, but investing their funds to create an organization like Guadalajara 2020.

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