The long strip that is known as West Cliff Drive is usually a chaotic scene on the weekends with hundreds of cars cruising back and forth along the Pacific coastline and a cluster of tourists Facebooking where they are instead of slowing down for pedestrians on the road.
Then came Santa Cruz Open Streets founder Saskia Lucas, who managed to plan and sort things out with the city to have a big part of the West Cliff shut down on Sunday afternoon for six hours.
Thanks to her, no cars were allowed on the street from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and hundreds of people filled from all ages took advantage by riding on bikes, skateboards, Razor scooters, a radio blasting love couch on wheels, walking their dogs, and most importantly spent time with family and friends.
Jim from Santa Cruz was all about having the street closed and has seen this kind of thing in Europe before.
“It’s nice, definitely do it again,” he said. “I definitely got to see a lot of people, meet some friends here on purpose, and ran into a bunch of people we knew. I think it’s great for the community overall and I discovered some booths with stuff I didn’t know.”
Martha Dyer from Santa Cruz was a volunteer for Open Streets and likes the idea that Lucas envisioned since putting everything together the event.
“It’s to allow people to enjoy being on the streets,” said Dyer. “Opening the streets so bicyclists, skaters and everybody can get out to appreciate it. I believe that we need to get out of our cars more and it’s another thing that promotes alternative transportation and promotes health.”
Daniel Cristancho is from Bogotá, Colombia and was also a volunteer for the event and he knows first hand about the entire operation that started over 30 years ago in his hometown.
“It’s wonderful,” said Cristancho about the Open Streets scene in Bogotá. “Every Sunday and holiday’s they close the streets and main ways for families and vendors.”
Even though the concept used in Santa Cruz is the same one used in Colombia, Cristanchos said the vibe and atmosphere isn’t quite the same compared to a mellower crowd.
“It’s very different here because it’s close to the beach and it’s full,” he said. “I think in this case because it’s the first time. It’s more crowded then Colombia and over there people are there every week, so there’s not that big of groups.”
Dyer also added that the Open Streets program in Bogotá also had a message intended for folks to be more active then just sit around all day in the house.
“From what I understand there it’s more about they wanted people to more healthy and to get out an exercise more,” she said. “And here I think people already do but it’s to have a place to do it. A safe place to do it and that’s pretty exciting.”