CicLAvia grows up!

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Los Angeles is supposed to be a city where the car rules supreme and cyclists and pedestrians take a backseat to the needs of motorists. CicLAvia has an antidote to that car-centric notion.

Free, open to all, and with no registration required,  it’s hoped CicLAvia gives people the opportunity to experience the city in a new way, while also promoting health and a wider discussion about how to use urban spaces in new and creative ways.

The next CicLAvia is this Sunday, October October 5th. Titled “Heart of L.A.,”the route will extend from Echo Park through downtown L.A.’s historic core to Boyle Heights and into East Los Angeles just outside of the borders of the City of L.A. Like other CicLAvia’s there will also be a smorgasbord of cultural activities, like an arts and culture festival in Grand Park and a children’s play area at the East L.A’ Civic Center.

We spoke to the Co-founder and executive director of CicLAvia Aaron Paley.

KCRW: What’s the importance of you jutting out this far east, into East LA and out of the City of Los Angeles proper?

AARON PALEY: We are showing tha this idea is bigger than the city of LA. We’re showing that CicLAvia is going to be all throughout the county of Los Angeles. You’re going to start seeing open streets  see events that are similar to CicLAvia, but under different names happening under different management in different parts of the county.

KCRW: You have offspring now?

AP: We have offspring. I talk about it like the farmers’ market model. Twenty-five years ago there was the Santa Monica Farmers market and then came the Hollywood Farmers Market, those were the two ancestors. Now every neighborhood in the county of LA wants its own farmers market. Thats what’s going on with this project. People really want this to come to their neighborhood and we’re at CicLAvia, we’re going to be will be in places like Culver City, Pasadena, Huntington Park, County of LA, you’re going to see us in all kinds of places that you haven’t seen us yet.

KCRW: I’ve done a couple of the events myself, and people are obviously having a great time. I was on a bike, riding by drivers who weren’t happy with it, weren’t happy with the street closures. And as you have more of these things, do you acknowledge that some people are going to react to this with anger and frustration?

AP: Yes, Ciclavia comes along and we can be an inconvenience. What we want motorists to understand is that you can cross CicLAvia, unlike the Marathon, there are places to cross and there are designated streets that go across the route pretty much every mile, so you’re never going to be detoured too greatly. You should definitely know about it and you should plan for it just like you plan for any other thing in Los Angeles. I hope that as few people as possible are stuck in traffic and frustrated and I hope that is greatly outweighed by the tens of thousands of people who are enjoying the city in a whole new way.

Here’s the map for CicLAvia’s October 5th ride. Titled “Heart of L.A.” it will be the 10th CicLAvia event held and the first to go beyond the borders of the City of Los Angeles, with a big portion of the route through East L.A. and into L.A. County.
L.A.’s CicLAvia was inspired by CicLOvia in Bogota, Colombia, where authorities close down the streets for cyclists, pedestrians and runners. Here you see cyclists participating in CicLAVia’s 2013 “To the Sea” event, which stretched 15 miles from downtown Los Angeles to Venice. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)
CicLAvia participants in downtown Los Angeles. One controversy around the event is complaints from motorists annoyed by the roadblocks and weekend street closures. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)
CicLAvia was co-founded and is now directed by Aaron Paley. A veteran advocate for the creative use of civic spaces and finding ways for motorists and non-motorists to share city streets. The first CicLAvia involved just a single event in 2010, but Paley envisions having several of them a year. He also says more cities in L.A. County will be staging their own independent CicLAvia-inspired events, changing how people use urban space. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)
Although CicLAvia is mostly associated with cycling and cyclists, the organization emphasizes how pedestrians, skaters, joggers and others are welcome to use the open pavement. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)