Cyclovia Topeka puts on final neighborhood event, builds anticipation for downtown Topeka appearance

Jakai, an 8-year-old East End neighborhood resident, enjoys going down fast hills on his bike. Jakai was one of many East End residents at Cyclovia Topeka’s neighborhood event this Sunday afternoon.

Jakai, an 8-year-old Topekan living in the East End neighborhood, is someone who frequently rides his bike. He finds it a lot of fun, especially because “you get to go down fast hills.”


Jakai was just one of the multiple East End residents who attended Visit Topeka’s Cyclovia — East End neighborhood event on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday’s East End event was just one of five Cyclovia events which have been going on since April — starting with a Crestview neighborhood event in April, which was canceled due to weather, and will end with an all-Topeka event in mid-August in downtown Topeka.

Part of the reason Cyclovia Topeka — now in its second year — decided to expand into neighborhoods is because at last year’s event, a lot of neighborhoods “weren’t represented” because they “didn’t have bikes,” according to Michaela Saunders, director of brand strategy at Visit Topeka.

“Last year was the first Cyclovia Downtown Topeka,” Saunders said. “What we noticed is that there were quite a few neighborhoods of Topeka that just weren’t represented at all.”

Part of the outreach with these neighborhood events has been getting bikes to kids in the respective event areas.

“When we were in Oakland we had a number of bikes we were able to give away and helmets,” Saunders said. “We’re hoping then that those kids can come down for Cyclovia Topeka in August to really bring the experience to everyone.”

The name for Cyclovia comes from the Spanish world “Ciclovía,” which has a literal translation of “cycleway.” The word is often used for permanent bike paths or the closing of certain streets for cyclists and pedestrians.

According to Visit Topeka’s director of tourism and development Rosa Cavazos, Cyclovia Topeka carries a lot of those same ideas.

“It’s just about getting outside and being active and being free to be on the streets with no cars and having the ability to walk, ride, run down an open street,” Cavazos said. “We have just kind of taken it to another level.”

While each neighborhood event has blocked off streets for kids to ride bikes, each has also had multiple businesses participate.

The Neighborhood Improvement Association has helped plan each event for its respective neighborhood, but groups like Safe Kids, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and Helping Hands Humane Society also participate in the events by bringing trucks and offering giveaways.

After a successful event in 2016, Cavazos attributed the reasons for bringing Cyclovia back to the people involved a “growing” Topeka biking community.

“The people were really great,” Cavazos said. “Just wanting to come out and talk about bike safety and teaching some of the younger kids what is it. How to be safe on your bike, how to wear a helmet, to be out and getting exercise, especially in our society there’s not a lot of that. So we want kids to be out and be part of the neighborhood.”

This year’s downtown event will continue promoting biking education for not only kids, but adults as well.

According to Saunders, representatives from Metro Bikes and Topeka Bikeway will be at this year’s event to help plan biking routes for people to and from work.

“As far as our menu of events, this one serves a really important purpose,” Saunders said. “We, as Visit Topeka, do a lot of events — we do the Food Truck Festival, we do Tap That now, we do a lot of festivals that are centered around kind of the opposite end of that spectrum — so to us it’s about, ‘How do we take care of the whole community?’

I mean this is a fun event, but it really gets people thinking about how they can incorporate wellness into their every day lives.”