TEMPLE TERRACE — Mark the date. Get your motor running, because others won’t be — especially cars.
Cyclovia is coming to town. All the rage in cities across the country and throughout the world, the premier leisure event originated in Colombia, South America, in the 1980s.
Derived from a Spanish word meaning cycle path, Cyclovia is an event in which a designated major thoroughfare within a municipality is temporarily closed to create an open, car-free environment.
It’s meant to turn that stretch of the city into a playground-like setting for people to bike, skateboard, run or walk at their leisure without the interference or worries associated with motorized vehicles, including golf carts.
On May 17, Cyclovia will make its debut in Temple Terrace.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the City of Temple Terrace — in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and others — will close 56th Street from Whiteway Drive south to Busch Boulevard/Bullard Parkway.
The Sunday open street event is expected to bring people of all ages in the community together and create what city officials hope will further enhance the town’s atmosphere as being an outgoing and civic-minded place to be. They encourage local businesses and organizations to participate.
“I think it will showcase our good sense of community,” said Mayor Frank Chillura.
City Councilman Eddie Vance, who describes himself as very outdoorsy, is excited about the upcoming event.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to show our multi-modal goals and aspirations,” he said. “It will be fun for everyone in the area, and I hope we’ll have a good turnout.”
Councilman Bob Boss said although he’s not a big bicyclist, he also enjoys being outdoors, especially at an event such as this that draws attention to Temple Terrace.
He’s also not overly concerned about the temporary inconvenience it may cause motorists trying to get to a church or business on 56th Street.
“Most places are accessible from side streets,” said Boss, who also noted that people with intentions of driving through Temple Terrace on 56th Street en route to other destinations can either take nearby north/south roadways or park their vehicles and join in the fun.
And Temple Terrace City Councilman and Vice Mayor Grant Rimbey sees the event as a chance for residents to “reclaim” and “tame” 56th Street, a heavily trafficked thoroughfare in the heart of the city.
“Cyclovia is a great event and brings added emphasis to the importance of 56th Street as one of our city’s primary corridors,” he said.
“I think the last time 56th Street was closed to traffic was probably in the 1980s when the city used to have its July Fourth festivities on the road,” Rimbey added.