– Audio slideshow below –
(Photos © J. Maus)
Via Recreativa is like a gift to the people of Guadalajara.
Every Sunday, the city prohibits cars on 25 kilometers of main thoroughfares. The result is a rolling party for thousands of Tapatios (residents of Guadalajara) who express their thanks for this gift with smiles.
Like Portland’s Sunday Parkways (which was modeled on the Via and other similar events south of the border), the Via Recreativa is much more than a recreational event. For many Tapatios, it’s a place to meet old friends and make new ones, it’s a place to gain a deeper connection to their city, and it’s a place that helps many of them re-imagine their public space.
I was amazed at the number of young kids riding without parents. The looks on their faces reminded me of when it was recess time and I would bolt out to the fields to play. It was pure energy, itching to be let free after being confined for too long.
The day is also a gift for businesses along the route. I noticed several restaurants that had erected canopies in their parking lots as temporary bike parking. Convenience stores bustled with activity and a sign advertising cheap beer lured in tired riders.
There were many opportunities to take a break and enjoy the special entertainment. A fashion show drew curious onlookers, a live band was popular with the younger set, and a clown roamed the crowds looking for laughs.
Downtown Guadalajara is dotted with plazas large and small, and the Via Recreativa performs a similar function. It’s like a temporary, linear plaza, where all walks of life and people of all ages flock to the streets to enjoy each other and their city.
For more images and to hear what the Via Recreativa sounds like, check out my audio slideshow below:
— You can browse my entire Via Recreativa photo gallery here.