Cyclovia 2015

Bicyclists ride southbound along South Fourth Avenue crossing East 22nd Street as thousands participate in the biannual Cyclovia event in 2015, where five miles of the city's streets from the downtown area to South Tucson are car-free.

Cyclovia Tucson is back.

And this spring it has a new route and a theme — National Poetry Month.

During the event, Tucsonans take to the streets to bike, walk and skate along a car-free route. An event usually organized twice a year, Cyclovia took a break last fall so Living Streets Alliance, the nonprofit advocacy group that puts the event together, could focus on a few other projects. 

Now, not only has Cyclovia Tucson returned for the spring, but its program coordinator Kylie Walzak says Living Streets Alliance is working to put Cyclovia on the calendar four times a year — as long as sponsors and funding can be secured. Eventually, she says, they'd like to see it occur monthly.

"Even if you're not thinking about public streets, people like how they see the community at these kinds of events" she says. "So the question is: How do we bring that feeling to as many people as possible?" 

On Sunday, April 7, the 3-mile route will begin at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson (the title sponsor), where you can get a tour at the new hospital tower scheduled to open later in April, catch a zip line or sip a bicycle-blended smoothie.

From there, the route will head down Vine Avenue toward Helen Street, past the UA Poetry Center and down Fourth Avenue. A quick stint on University Boulevard will take cyclists to Sixth Avenue, where the route will conclude at the Seventh Street intersection with a block party. That's also the intersection Living Streets Alliance transformed last year with some paint and portable seating. It's called #CorbettPorch. For a more detailed map of the route, go to cycloviatucson.org

"We set a goal for all of the 40,000 expected participants to interact with poetry in some way," Walzak says. 

Participants include the UA Poetry Center, Urban Poetry Pollinators and Tucson poet laureate TC Tolbert

"Living Streets Alliance promotes healthy streets and healthy lifestyles, and poetry can also help us think about how we might have healthy streets and lifestyles," says Tyler Meier, the executive director of the poetry center, adding that it's all about incorporating poetry into daily life. 

Expect to see poems chalked on the road and read all along the route. Bikes with speakers will broadcast poetry in different languages, and several typewriters will allow cyclists to add to a community poem. 

If you stop at the poetry center, you can have a poem screen-printed on a t-shirt or taste gingerbread made from Emily Dickinson's recipe, among other activities. 

You can also experience poetry as you ride through a misting station and listen to a poem about water — possibly by local poet Ofelia Zepeda. 

It's a perfect harmony of things.

"Lots of exciting groups use poetry to encourage reflection on the human condition," Walzak says. "And Living Streets Alliance puts people in spaces to reflect on their environment." 


If you go

What: Cyclovia Tucson, three miles of car-free streets and interactive activities

When: Sunday, April 7, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Cost: Free

More info: Visit cycloviatucson.org