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Viva Streets set for Sunday

Pam LeBlanc

Editor’s note: This article was originally published May 14, 2013

Bicycles, skateboards, pogo sticks and tango dancers will get right of way this Sunday during the city’s second Viva Streets event.

A 2-mile stretch of East Sixth Street between Brazos Street and Robert Martinez Jr. Street will close to traffic from noon to 5 p.m., when the public is invited to come out and play.

Last year’s event featured everything from hula hoopers to unicycles. People picnicked, danced, pulled wagons and cartwheeled through streets normally clogged with cars and trucks.

“So many cities have done it, but somehow it seemed uniquely Austin,” said Austin City Council Member Chris Riley, who helped create the free event. “This event really invites Austin’s weirdness.”

This year, the Texas Rollergirls will lead a kick-off parade at 12:30 p.m., followed by an opening ceremony at 1 p.m. Activities will include Zumba, yoga, CrossFit, bike rodeos, cooking demonstrations, a climbing wall, obstacle courses, a bungee run, wheelbarrow races, painting, clay sculpting, giant chess, bike polo, soccer, unicycle football and an array of live performances on an outdoor stage.

The concept of a ciclovia, in which streets are closed to motor traffic and taken over by people on bikes or on feet, started in Bogata, Colombia, which now hosts a ciclovia every weekend. The idea caught on around the globe, and cities as far flung as Mexico City, Melbourne, Brussels and Halifax now host ciclovias. In the United States, Miami, San Francisco, New York City and dozens of other cities have hosted them.

“The idea is to build community through encouraging healthy activity out on the street. By inviting everyone out into space usually dominated by cars, we open up all sorts of possibilities for neighbors to get together and have a great time outdoors,” Riley said.

City officials estimate last year’s attendance at about 15,000. They are hoping for more this year.

“It was so much fun and we know that location works,” Riley said. “We want to try again and see if we can draw a bigger crowd this time and gain momentum for moving on to other locations and greater frequency.”

Dogs are welcome.

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