Will L.A. Have Its Ciclovia? Signs Are Pointing to Yes

11_10_09_CICLAVIA.JPGImagine Wilshire Boulevard without cars. Rendering: CicLAvia

For months, a hard-core group of volunteers have been working on a shoe-string budget to bring a series of car-free festivals to Los Angeles based on the weekly Ciclovias of Bogota, Colombia.  Thanks to a series of high profile news stories in the Times and ABC News highlighting the continued work of the CicLAvia volunteers, the Mayor’s office is saying we could see a series of these car free parties starting in the Spring of 2010.

For the uninitiated, the city of Bogota put on the first Ciclovia decades ago by closing several of its main streets to cars and opening them to pedestrians and cyclists on Sundays.  Over the years, a culture developed around these gigantic street parties.  Citizens literally pack the streets taking their bikes, joining group exercises and dances or just taking a walk free from the interference of the automobile.  To get an idea of the scope, power and joy of Ciclovia, check out this iconic Streetfilm from December of 2007.

New York, Portland and San Francisco have all started programs to similar to Ciclovia in recent years.  Like Ciclovia their events run on Sundays.  Unlike Ciclovia, their events are only on certain Sundays in the summer.  Activists in these cities credit their Ciclovia-styled events have encouraged more people to try urban cycling and walking because they could "get their feet wet" in a comfortable, car-free environment.

Los Angeles is expecting to move incrementally on our CicLAvia, bringing a series of small events to communities before going larger in future years.  The first street to see a CicLAvia will probably be a two-mile stretch of road in Boyle Heights, where a grant from the California Foundation would help pay for the pilot Ciclovia.  While the Mayor’s office has expressed interest in the project, it hasn’t yet committed to a date, route, or time.  However, cyclists and pedestrians shouldn’t be discouraged by the cautious approach at City Hall.  San Francisco’s Sunday Streets program kicked off this year with a series of two-hour closures that were so popular that Mayor Newsom already announced the extension and expansion of the program for 2010.

So now the clock is ticking towards the Spring of 2010.  Will Los Angeles finally realize that you don’t need a Lakers Championship or dead celebrity or ethnic festival to hold a car-free party?  In my opinion, just living in the land of eternal sunshine is reason enough.

14 thoughts on Will L.A. Have Its Ciclovia? Signs Are Pointing to Yes

  1. With the marathon organizers canceling the annual LA Bike Tour, purportedly to reinvent the ride out as a world-class, stand-alone event, the CycLAvia might be a great opportunity for them to get behind.

  2. A) It’ll never happen.

    B) Where are all the people? That photo shows some half dozen. MacArthur Park is already a well traveled area by foot and bike.

  3. Damien,

    Think a big community showing out there of all the Ciclovia/Summer Streets/etc films could help put it over the top? We can get something to you pronto.

    Chicago just did so, and they are on their way to what looks like more Ciclovias.

  4. Bobby and Steven from cicLAvia made a presentation last night at the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council’s Outreach Committee meeting, which the committee voted to recommend to the EHNC’s governing board to vote to endorse at our upcoming meeting on Monday, November 16 at Kingsley Manor.

    The plan is to have cicLAvia span between two communities as a pilot project, so if East Hollywood is down, who’s with us? Silver Lake? Los Feliz?

  5. Wooooot! Wooooooooot! It’s great to see that this great idea is finally getting some traction! I wanna ride in LA’s ciclovia next summer!

    Some credit where credit due: CicLAvia is a project/committee/campaign that was initiated and is staffed by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The steering committee group includes C.I.C.L.E. (which I work for and which you should all become members of! end shameless plug), Green L.A. Coalition, and Community Arts Resources.

  6. Yeah! CicLAvia in LA. I can’t wait. It’s not a question of “if”, it’s a question of “where” and “when” and “how often will we repeat this fantastic experience for Angelenos”. Oh yeah!

  7. This could be a great idea in other Cities surrounding LA as well (hint). A big challenge for these cities is getting resources to safely close off large segments of streets, plus buy-in from local businesses and residents.

  8. Post cicLAvia euphoria happening. So glad that the organizers pulled off one of the free public best events in LA, EVER!

  9. Post cicLAvia euphoria happening. So glad that the organizers pulled off one of the best public events in LA, EVER!

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