On Sundays, Guadalajara es para todos

Posted by on February 17th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Without cars, Guadalajara’s streets become filled with life.
– 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.

Story continues below


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.


There are not many streets in
Guadalajara where friends can ride
four abreast.

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.

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    Brian February 17, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Jonathan – This story made my day. Thank you.

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    hanmade February 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Please, please, please, can’t we get this every Sunday in Portland?

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    Aaron February 18, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Fantastic article Jonathan;
    You clearly show why carfree spaces are better not just for regular people, but also for businesses.
    It’s nice to know that some areas of the world are not as confined in the grip of the auto interests

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    Anonymous February 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Wonderful! I had a great time with you in Guadalajara. Keep up the great work. Your newest devoted bike fan.

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    Anonymous February 18, 2009 at 1:06 pm


    awesome amazing, love culture…nice photos i felt life from this,… goosebumps…Thanks

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    el timito February 18, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Love the post, and terribly jealous that I didn’t get to go too.

    But I have to offer an alternate spelling : Via RecreActiva – a hybrid word combining recreation and activity.

    The website linked has a great history of the event, in Spanish (como no?). If you run it through Google translator it’s a so-so history of the event.

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    Janis February 19, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I love your description of what the event is really about: neighbors meeting up, new friends being made, fun activities happening. Buzzing energy. People reconnecting with their city.

    It also seems that it isn’t about which streets are closed or I should say which streets are opened up to people.

    Thank you for the story. Great to see that with time their event has grown into an amazing one. With time ours will too.

    And as always, volunteers will be needed and greatly appreciated!

    Ride on, Janis

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    Outdoors Activities February 20, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Thanks, your post reminds me of our marathon last year, my whole family participated in that and those moments were unforgettable.

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