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Spend A Day Behind Bars: CicLAvia

By Melodi McGee | Sustainable Living, Urban Design

If you can imagine the usually busy streets of Downtown Los Angeles, completely devoid of automobiles and filled with thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists, then you have, in a nutshell, envisioned the quarterly community event, CicLAvia. Inspired by ciclovías, which were started in response to the congestion and pollution of city streets in Bogotá, Colombia over three decades ago, CicLAvia creates a temporary pedestrian dominated open space, just by removing cars from city streets for the day. CicLAvia is for everyone: bicyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders – pretty much any motor-free vehicle (motorized wheel chairs are allowed) can be used to participate in this growing community event. Free to the public, the event connects diverse portions of the city, creating a web of temporary public space, free of automobile traffic. In an effort to showcase different parts and benefit the many neighborhoods of Los Angeles, no two CicLAvia routes are ever the same. Past events have navigated the city center, South LA, as well as made the trek to the coast. The upcoming event on April 6th 2014 will allow participants to explore 6 miles of Wilshire Boulevard from Miracle Mile, just past Highway 101.

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Community members at LA’s CicLAvia event. Photo by Mark Ridley-Thomas.

But CicLAvia is more than just a bike ride; there are multiple hubs along the routes with a variety of activities appropriate for all ages. Food, vendors, crafts and life entertainment make CicLAvia an all day affair. While the bike ride is just another part of the fun, bicycles are not required to participate in the event. In the past, many bicycle-free activities, such as dodge ball, tennis, community theater and street arts have occurred along the event route making CicLAvia a fun, all-inclusive party on the streets of Los Angeles.

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CicLAvia’s route rules. Image via CicLAvia.org

CicLAvia is a cooperative partnership between the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, the City of Los Angeles, and the CicLAvia organization. The support of the Mayor and City Council helps make this exciting event possible. With city and police support, the route is completely blocked off from motor vehicle traffic, helping keep riders and pedestrians safe through the duration of the event. The route itself follows natural traffic patterns and because there is no official start or finish line, CicLAvia is fully accessible for participants of all physical abilities.

The benefits of CicLAvia are immense. Aside from the obvious health perks due to increased physical activity, this event brings families into the community, improves social capital and is economically profitable for businesses that participate in the day long event. CicLAvia pulls people out of their automobile dominated lives and brings them a pedestrian level, allowing for a Downtown experience that cannot be appreciated from a car. In the past, CicLAvia has drawn crowds exceeding 100,000 people. This year’s event also coincides with and concludes the Open Streets National Summit, taking place April 4-6, which CicLAvia is co-hosting along with the Open Streets Project. The summit will unite leaders working on open streets programs from cities from all over the country, including experts in urban planning, alternative transportation and bike and pedestrian advocacy to examine best practices and consider new opportunities. Whether biked, skateboarded, walked or scootered, CicLAvia is a must-experience, not-to-miss, community event.

Feature Image: CicLAvia Community Event, Los Angeles, California. Image via Metro.

About The Author

Melodi McGee
Melodi McGee works in Public Administration for a municipality in the Pacific Northwest. She graduated in 2014 from California State University Northridge with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Urban and Environmental Planning and a minor in Sustainability. Melodi is extremely passionate about the environment and education and believes that the key to ensuring the longevity and vital of our planet lies in promoting healthy environmental attitudes and practices to youth. Her greatest passion is her who children who inspire her to make the world a better place to be. Melodi is a self proclaimed life-long learner and is excited to be a part of the PowerHouse Growers contribution team and share ideas and innovations with like minded individuals.