Noon to 2 p.m. — Blues, Bikes and Beer at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center (200 E. M.L. King Blvd.)
1-3 p.m. — Mural Fest and Arts Expo at Stove Works (Holtzclaw Avenue & 14th Street)
2-4 p.m. — Highland Park Community Festival at Highland Park Commons (2006 Union Ave.)
2-4 p.m. — Ridgedale Art in the Alley (alleyway off of Kelly Street between Kirby & Vance avenues)
3-5 p.m. — Kids’ Corner @ The Knob at Orchard Knob Elementary School (2000 E. Third St.)
4-7 p.m. — Glass Street Live! at the intersection of Glass Street & Dodson Ave
If your preferred type of cycling event involves a leisurely pedal through Chattanooga — past a half-dozen block parties — then RiverRocks has the event for you.
It's called a ciclovia, and it's a type of event that's growing in popularity around the country. Ciclovia is the Spanish term for "cycleway," and refers to the temporary closing of streets to cars to allow for more comfortable cycling in residential or urban areas.
This ciclovia will be Chattanooga's first. The event begins at noon, downtown at the Bessie Smith Center on M. L. King Boulevard. Cyclists will then travel at their own pace, following a 6-mile route and stopping off at block parties along the way. The event culminates at 7 p.m. on Glass Street with the final party, Glass Street Live!
The goal goes well beyond two wheels.
"We want to introduce cyclists to these communities and get them out of their cars so they can see Chattanooga in a whole new way," says Velo View Bike Tours owner Shannon Burke, who is organizing the new event on behalf of RiverRocks. "Meet people you wouldn't have otherwise met and experience these neighborhoods with a new perspective."
Burke has been coordinating with community members to create a route through six downtown and East Chattanooga neighborhoods that will bring riders in for an afternoon of live music, food and fun, all completely free of charge.
"Before my bike tour business, I was a city planner," the Austin, Texas, transplant says. "In doing this project, I was shifted into focusing on these neighborhoods and learning about the issues facing them. It was great to get back into that world and talk with the talented and motivated people in them."
Issues like gentrification, food deserts and lack of employment opportunities were some of the issues residents discussed with Burke. With hope, he says, the ride will help raise awareness outside of these communities and offer a personal connection to both the existence of such issues and the locals facing them.
As for the ride, it's not a race, and the only time limit is the one riders set for themselves. They can spend as little or as long as they want at each party. Each is scheduled for two hours, with the finale lasting three hours. The Lyndhurst Foundation provided Burke with extra funds for live music, and while the acts haven't been finalized, Burke says he's excited for popular, local acts to showcase their stuff at each party.
Burke stresses that he is simply assisting with coordinating the events. The neighborhoods themselves are organizing all the fun, food and games for participants to enjoy — inflatables, parades, interactive art, dance demonstrations, group exercise and more.
The only prerequisite to take part in the ciclovia is showing up with a bike. The ride route also highlights Bike Chattanooga rental stations.
"One thing we're hoping to do is demonstrate to newer riders that the miles go by a lot faster than you think," says Burke. "When you're going from party to party in the company of others, you think, 'Wow, I just biked those three miles with no problem.' We want it to be accessible."
With luck, Burke says ciclovias like these will become regular events in the Chattanooga area, able to showcase neighborhoods and communities to people in ways they've never seen before.
For more information, including full ride route and party details, visit chattanooga-celebrates.com.