Normally, the street of Paseo de los Heroes is full of cars and not at all the kind of place where you would linger at. But that has all changed on Sundays when local police close off a portion of the street’s access points to vehicles. From about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the city’s residents are invited to reclaim Paseo de los Heroes through a new program called “Via Libre, La Calle es Tuya.” That roughly translates to “Open Road, the Street is Yours.”
Curious, I dropped by on a recent Sunday and saw enormous potential. With no cars in sight, residents were able to do laps on their bicycles (some free rentals are available, too!). Kids on skateboards and inline skates took to the asphalt. Young children pedaled furiously on tricycles. There was entertainment, too: A giant chess game, a giant Jenga game, obstacle courses and a pair of strolling musicians who let volunteers step in as conductors. Families lounged on the grassy center divide near a small collection of photos and paintings, a few couples brought their leashed dogs, and a pair of young guitar players strummed on a street corner.
Not a lot of people seem to be aware of the program so it will be interesting to see how the Sunday street scene evolves. I’ve written before about how Tijuana doesn’t have a sense of centrality like other Mexican cities that were built around a traditional plaza. A four-block area along Paseo de los Heroes may not make a square, but it’s a linear start. The program is expected to last through November.
To get there: Paseo de los Heroes is one of the city’s main streets and a major entrance and exit point for the San Ysidro border. Signs at the border will guide you to the street, which takes you to the city’s Zona Rio business district and the CECUT cultural center. The closed-off portion starts at the traffic circle of the Indian (Aztec ruler Cuauhtemoc). You can park at the Zona Rio mall or one of the nearby side streets.