Bike Fest and Cyclovia celebrate public space

April 9, 2013 |

If you’ve been daydreaming about spending more time in the open air exploring our city – and less time trapped in your car – each April a group of people is giving you every possible incentive to take over the streets and celebrate public space. Living Streets Alliance fills the month of April with Bike Fest, bookended this year with Cyclovia, two all-day festivals of car-free streets downtown on April 7th, and midtown on April 28th.

“I look at Cyclovia as a sort of canvas,” says Kylie Walzak, the event’s coordinator. “It’s an opportunity for the Tucson community to come out and participate at an event, unlike any other opportunity that we have. The organizers raise money and provide for public safety, but after that, everything else is a combination of efforts of really passionate people to come out and share what they have for the day.”

Artist Mykl Wells will be rolling around on his handmade recycled tricycle, giving away agua fresca. Walzak says Alecio Lopez is encouraging people to travel “back in time” by harvesting nine historic images from the historical society to print large and hang along the route. Mariah Hoffman, who worked with the recent 3 Degrees of Strangers exhibit, will be pairing up with Cakes for Causes to get participants sharing cookies and stories with strangers. Other activity hubs will have live music and dancing in the streets; a pop-up skate park, obstacle course, rock climbing wall, jumping castle; you can rent bikes, decorate bikes, or just walk each 5-mile course and sample the food trucks – the only cars that get a say in this show.

“The first three years we’ve had Cyclovia it’s been a fun, active event, but this year it has the potential to be a venue for community strength building, and a place for the Tucson community to come out, get together and celebrate,” Walzak says. “I hope that the lasting effect that people take away from the event is that so much of the conversation about our streets is negative: ‘our streets are crumbling,’ ‘our streets are dangerous.’ But we can really challenge ourselves to re-imagine our streets in a different way.”

Cyclovia’s graphic designer Dennis Fesenmyer is putting imagination to paper with three other artists who will be creating limited edition print posters for Cyclovia. Joining him are Matt McCoy, Ryan Trayte, and Richie Brevaire, who will create a set of four 18 x 24 posters in Cyclovia’s colors – wedgewood blue and bright mustard yellow – that show each artist’s celebration of open streets.

The second event on the 28th highlights a new route through midtown using pieces of Dodge, Blacklidge, Mountain and Glenn, and is the first step in the mission to provide four routes in separate neighborhoods to cycle through each year. Courses are built to pass schools, businesses and other attractions along bike boulevards and low-stress routes “that people can realistically feel comfortable using on their bikes or walking the other 364 days of the year,” Walzak says.

It’s a goal that rings true with the rest of Bike Fest. “The more people you get out riding a bike, the safer it becomes for everyone because bicycling becomes more visible and people notice them more,” adds Emily Yetman, executive director of Living Streets Alliance. “It adds to the vibrancy of our streets and helps create a street life and vitality in our neighborhoods.” And for the rest of April, the streets all over Tucson will be humming with pedal pushers as they stop by dozens of events just for commuting cyclists. During Pedal the Pueblo week, Whole Foods on Speedway will be doing a kickoff breakfast with live music and raffles, and way stations will be set along bike routes to supply riders with juice, coffee, bagels, and giveaways.

New this year, Tucsonans can come to a happy hour at Borderlands Brewery with outdoor activities by Playformance. Free food there is sponsored by New Belgium, who is bringing back the Best Beer and Film Festival at the Fox during Bike Fest. BICAS is hosting a ride through the Barrio to Crossroads Restaurant’s happy hour; GABA is putting on the Bike Swap and coordinating rides to Reid Park Zoo with free admission for helmet-toters. Miles of rides all month can be logged online for raffles of gift certificates and bike gear. April’s two-wheeled opportunities are endless.

Bike Fest, April 1-30 –

Events list and giveaways are on their website,

Cyclovia, Sunday, April 7th and Sunday, April 28th 10am to 3pm

Route info and events at

For more information, visit