In March of this year, the city of Tijuana inaugurated an ambitious open-air program called Vía Libre, La Calle Es Tuya in which, every Sunday through October, a section of Paseo de los Héroes was closed to vehicular traffic. From 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on these days, the full width of the boulevard is turned over to families out for a stroll, joggers, skaters, dog-walkers, street performers, and pretty much anyone else who wants to enjoy the urban outdoors.
The program proved to be very popular because of its mixture of culture and carnival. Alejandra said “I loved the dance class.” Jonathan offered “this is a great way for families to get out and have a good time with others in the community and get to know new people.” Vía Libre attracted many local artists, musicians, actors, face-painters, stilt-walkers, and living statues. Chess enthusiasts picked up games, children were treated to Punch-and-Judy shows, groups of musicians played their favorites, and the local cyclists’ association set up a booth where they repaired bicycles.
The subliminal effect of the location on the public created a sense of liberation, almost a defiance of motor vehicles, which added to the carnival-like atmosphere. This is because, during the week, Paseo de los Héroes is one of the busiest streets in Zona Río. Yet the scheduling of Vía Libre was carefully chosen to coincide with a time when the traffic is extremely light, so as not to inconvenience motorists.
This year, Vía Libre extended from the Cuauhtémoc traffic circle eastward to Lázaro Cárdenas High School. The range might be adjusted somewhat next year once the results have been analyzed by the city’s Health Department, Sports Institute, Youth Institute, Department of
Urban Planning, and Planning Institute. Everyone is looking forward to next March, when IMAC (the Municipal Institute for Art and Culture) heads up the program once again.
Some of the photos were taken by Edelweiss45 of tijuanaconamor.blogspot.com. Her complete photo album is available at http://picasaweb.google.com/edelweiss45/TijuanaViaLibre