Los Angeles is one of the car capitals of the world, but a few times a year, it becomes a pedestrian’s paradise. Cyclists, walkers, runners and skaters get to temporarily roam car-free streets during the city’s iconic CicLAvia event. After a pandemic-induced hiatus, it’s back on August 15 to reimagine the city Angelenos live in. CicLAvia’s Chief Strategist Tafarai Bayne speaks with KCRW about what to expect from this year’s three events.
KCRW: Last year was CicLAvia’s 10th anniversary but it was cancelled due to COVID. How has it been?
Tafarai Bayne: “As a nonprofit, we had to pivot our work and think about exactly how to get through that time. We were lucky to be able to position ourselves to work on some alfresco dining work with the City of LA. That helped us as a nonprofit keep afloat. And we have the support of our individual donors and foundation. We were lucky to get to this point and get back in the streets.”
Tell me more about the work CicLAvia did for LA’s al fresco dining program.
“The alfresco program is one of those ways that, as a city, we could look at our outdoor spaces and think about how they could better support many more uses. And that's one of the secret sauces of CicLAvia — looking at our outdoor space, our street space, and how we can bring many more uses to it so that many more residents can find some joy out of that space.
The outdoor dining program was a response to an emergency moment where we were phone-banking, calling businesses, sending them notes, sending them information about the region, doing deep outreach to businesses that weren't necessarily finding great success accessing the program as it started off.”
What should residents expect from this weekend’s event in Wilmington?
“We’re going to be on M Street, Avalon Boulevard and C Street as normally. We've been down there a few times now. It's a beautiful neighborhood, capped by two huge park spaces on Banning Park and Wilmington Waterfront Park. It's really close to the port of LA and close to the water.
It's really one of those communities that get overlooked sometimes. But we find when we visit, residents are incredibly happy about being out and enjoying their neighborhood.
And we find so many great cultural icons and spaces to visit and hang out in. It's just one of our favorite little routes to do. It's one of our smaller ones, but no less important.”
How do you choose which areas of town to host them in?
“One of our main goals is bringing park space to neighborhoods that don't have parks because we essentially create parks for a day.
Neighborhoods like South LA are very dense and don't have as many parks as more affluent neighborhoods. Bringing it to a community like South LA is about bringing some recreational space to a neighborhood that could use it, as well as highlighting other great cultures and great communities.
The downtown route is our OG route that we've done the most. That route is about highlighting our downtown — the heart of our city. It's also one of our oldest and most diverse communities.”
Do you worry you’ll have to cancel due to COVID?
“We're following the guidelines with our county public health decision makers. As of now, everything looks safe to be doing these events. Being in outdoor spaces is one of the safest things to be doing during this time. We also encourage mask use.
And we will have vaccinations available at our event as another way of bringing healthy choices to people and to residents.
We're playing our part as we try to ensure that our city can move to a better place.”
So Angelenos will be able to get outside, get vaccinated, ride their bike and just have a good time?
“Yep, just another CicLAvia on some levels.”