Bicyclists, pedestrians shut down Kennedy Blvd.

- Normal bumper-to-bumper traffic on Kennedy Boulevard was replaced with pedestrians on Sunday. The city hosted the second annual Cyclovia, a worldwide event encouraging families to get out and get fit.

Cyclovia, which comes from "cycle path" in Spanish, is a tradition that started in Bogotá, Colombia, in which major city streets would shut down to car traffic and convert to bicycle and pedestrian friendly routes.

"We're just opening up the street to people to play in, as opposed to dodging traffic," said Karen Kress, Director of Planning for the Downtown Tampa Partnership.

Kennedy Boulevard, from Nebraska Avenue to Tampa Street, was closed for the event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Local bicyclists said it can be intimidating and dangerous riding through city streets on a typical day.

"With these cars being out there, it makes you hesitate, and that's one reason why a lot of people don't want to get out there in traffic," said Alice Pittman.

Walking, biking, skating and running were the only modes of transportation permitted on the road during the event.

"It's so weird. You don't realize how wide [Kennedy Boulevard] is, how much space we actually give over to cars, until you stand in the middle of five lanes of empty traffic," said Kress.

The goal of Cyclovia in Tampa was also to encourage physical activity for people of all ages.

A recent report labeled the United States as the most obese country in the world, with 35 percent of its citizens considered to be overweight. According to the study performed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. has the most overweight children in the world as well.

"Events like this are good, so [children] can get out the house and stop playing PlayStation or Wii," said bicyclist Phillip Burgos. "Everything is technology today. They need to exercise and stay in shape."

"I'm from the Old School, where families are very important, and it's just good to see families out together, just walking around and spending time," said Joyce Cromer, who came with her niece.

According to organizers, the city plans to continue making Cyclovia an annual event.

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