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PROMOTING HEALTHY LIFESTYLES AMONG CITY RESIDENTS THROUGH THE USE OF DEDICATED CITY SPACES AND TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE FOR CYCLING, RUNNING, WALKING AND OTHER PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
To encourage a culture of sport and physical activity within the City of Medellin and to promote the environmentally sustainable use of public spaces by its citizens.
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The “Ciclovías de Medellín” was born with the aim of ensuring adequate, free and safe spaces that can contribute to adopting healthy lifestyles for citizens through sport and physical activity.
There are 5 central city thoroughfares dedicated to the programme for the benefit of all citizens. Every Sunday, on public holidays and on Tuesday and Thursday nights, over 42 kilometers of cycle routes are made available. Vehicles are not permitted on these roads during this times. Instead the roads are open to all members of the public who wish to cycle, run, walk or engage in other forms of physical activity in a safe and secure environment.
Ciclovía’s activities are complemented by targeted initiatives aimed at stimulating a deeper culture of sport and physical activity amongst residents. Rumba classes, aerobics, yoga and other different forms of physical activity are operated to cater to the varying tastes of the Medellin population. This includes tailored programmes throughout the year that promote the use of bicycles and highlight the benefits of active and healthy lifestyle choices around the city.
The Ciclovía routes and the timing of their public opening took into account the time resources of participants as well as the needs of normal route users. By restricting vehicles on the road during on weekends and weekday nights, there is minimal disruption caused to normal traffic. It is also during these times that participants are more likely to be free to take advantage of the amenity.
An inclusive attitude
While the initiative is well suited to specific types of activity, most notably cycling and running, there is no limitation on how citizens can use the space available. Often entire families including their pets will use the pathways simply as a free space to enjoy each other's company outside of their normal environment.
There is a host of activities that have now sprung up alongside the core Ciclovía offering of typical exercise space. Aerobics, rumba, yoga and others are practiced along the route without restriction. This ensures that the citizens see Ciclovía as a fully inclusive space for all and feeds into the culture of physical activity and healthy lifestyle. It helps to communicate the message that there is something for everyone and that healthy lifestyle choices are not excluded to anyone. The organisers also run a special once-off Ciclovía in the rural areas surrounding the City every year. This helps to maintain a connection between the City and the surrounding areas and places a heavy emphasis on the nature of the local countryside.
Improve public health and well-being
The Ciclovía and its associated initiatives and activities are all part of the larger strategy for the promotion healthy living and reduction of sedentary practices amongst the Medellin population. The direct consequence of this approach is the prevention of cardio-vascular illnesses and other non-communicable diseases.
Support active societies
The vision of Medellin is one where sport, recreation and physical activity can be used as a constructive tool to shape the fabric of a city and improve the everyday lives of its inhabitants. The programme has been seen as a “Trojan horse” in which these tools are transported via sport and put to use to build a more social, healthy and vibrant community. The success of this strategy has been achieved thanks to the institutional presence of Ciclovía throughout the territory.
Provide equal access to sport
While the programme strategically targets the promotion of certain activities, there are no restrictions on who can use the space and for what. Participants can engage in any form of activity once it is in line with the tone of healthy, outdoor living. Cyclists and runners practice alongside yoga and palates classes and even entire families who are simply enjoying the open space and positive environment.
The programme is communicated to city residents through the official programme website, social media networks and by word of mouth.
The main method of evaluation is through measuring the number of residents that interact with the spaces and initiatives provided. The development plan for the municipality stipulates that there must be 11 routes open at all times and this is permanently maintained by organisers. Furthermore, the organisers frequently take on qualitative studies into the social effects of the initiative amongst participants across factors such as city perception, sense of community, etc.