Africa Torres stands at the center of a street mural painted in the center of El Camino Real in Greenfield, one of the activities meant to leave a mark during Ciclovía Greenfield on June 26. (Yanely Martinez)

GREENFIELD — Hundreds of community members had a chance to walk and ride freely on El Camino Real last month as part of Ciclovía Greenfield.

The June 26 event was meant to showcase bicycling by having community organizations, music and family activities held along Greenfield’s main street, from Elm Avenue all the way up to Apple Avenue.

A group of one dozen residents helped plan the event over the months leading up to the event, and more than two dozen volunteers helped run it. More than 30 community organizations attended with booths for guests to visit.

Vicente Lara, an organizer from Monterey County Health Department, said this year’s celebration differed from last year’s Soledad event with a reduction of restrictions for the Covid-19 pandemic, as last year was still a time of restriction easing.

“The biggest impact on us was, we organized the whole Soledad event virtually, with everything via Zoom,” Lara said. “This time around, the majority of the meetings were virtual, but we had more opportunity to meet with the residents in person.”

Lara said attendance numbers for both years were hard to gauge, as the nature of the Ciclovía was for people to trickle in and out at any point, with no gate or check-in. Some guests rode their bicycles up and down the main street, while others might only have peeked in at a booth or two.

“We were really happy with the turnout for both events,” Lara said. “This past weekend in Greenfield, we saw a mix of folks show up, which really reflected participation from the entire community. One of the goals of the event is bringing the whole community out to engage with each other and learn about active transportation opportunities.”

Volunteers gather before the beginning of Ciclovía Greenfield, a community event meant to showcase cycling as transportation and the idea of environments built to serve community health. (Yanely Martinez)

In addition to learning about bicycling, the freedom of the event was another aspect for residents to consider. That freedom of experiencing their environment differently was a first step toward introducing the concept of built environments, where places are built with infrastructure for healthier living.

“How often do you get to walk out on your main street the way that you’re able to during a Ciclovía,” Lara said. “We can focus on individual behaviors, which we do through education, but also a big factor is your built environment. Does the environment that you’re in allow for you to be able to not just get around in a car, but walking and biking?”

Some steps toward making that built environment, Lara noted, might include bike lanes and sidewalk improvements.

This year was the last in a series for South Monterey County Ciclovía events run by Monterey County’s Open Streets initiative, in partnership with Building Healthy Communities in Salinas. The series of local events, starting in Gonzales, then King City, then Soledad, and concluding in Greenfield, were funded by Caltrans grant money.

Lara said Open Streets doesn’t currently have funding for more Ciclovía events, as the original grants were used for multiple years of a pilot process to introduce communities to the idea of Ciclovías.

“We have communicated with all the South County cities that if they’re interested, we are more than happy to help them, through technical assistance or supporting them, in continuing it,” Lara said. “That’s the whole idea. We want the South County communities to take ownership of these events and put them on.”

Lara said being able to work with the residents in Greenfield and South County has been an opportunity to develop leadership among residents.

“We want residents to be champions for this kind of work,” Lara said.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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