CicLAvia Heading Deeper Through the Eastside, but When?

Bicycles ride past Mariachi Plaza on the 1st Street Green Bike Lanes. Mariachi Plaza is one of the first stops in the proposed Boyle Heights expansion that has been stalled for the past year. Photo from LADOT Bike Blog

For CicLAvia, figuring out how, when and where to expand has been its biggest challenge.  While CicLAvia is free to attend, it costs a lot of money to push past the current 10-mile route, closing streets to cars, providing police support and re-routing car drivers who find entrences and exits from the freeway blocked.  Despite CicLAvia’s success, money to expand has been hard to find.

Yet, CicLAvia is working with what they have. At a CicLAvia board of trustees meeting last week, trustees decided the existing route would be cut at certain parts in order to accommodate an expansion in other parts. Bobby Gadda, CicLAvia board of trustee president, said that CicLAvia expansion on First Street to Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights would be in the draft route the board will send to the city next week for the next CicLAvia in October.

“(We’re) pretty committed and looking to make it happen,” said Gadda about the Boyle Heights expansion.

Currently, LADOT provides services for the 10-mile route but can’t provide for more coverage. If miles were to be added, CicLAvia would need to hire contractors to manage the same services LADOT would do, adding an extra cost to their budget, Gadda added.

For an event that has after four CicLAvia, with media outlets saying each brought out more than 100,000 participants, it remains in a precarious financial state.

“We’re back to zero in terms of funding,” said Gadda going into this October’s CicLAvia.

Yet, CicLAvia hasn’t been deterred in planning for future routes. With no staff and relying on the efforts of contractors, CicLAvia volunteers and trustees, its outreach into communities creates expectations that the ride will come. These expectations have yet to be realized, causing frustration and doubt from community members.

“Over a year . . . (the expansion) hasn’t happened,” said Leon Arellano, co-founding member of Corazon del Pueblo, one of the spaces that hosted the Boyle Heights expansion meetings. “It puts the commitment into question.”

Three communities vie for CicLAvia expansion, South L.A., Chinatown and Boyle Heights. Each community boasts some success and experienced some failure.The route ended up short in its attempt to enter Chinatown, currently the El Pueblo hub, and South Los Angeles.  The route from April and last October’s CicLAvia ended right before entering South LA. In South Los Angeles, LADOT and Metro prevented the expansion because the proposed route would pose a danger when it passes through the Blue Line Light Rail tracks.

Joe Linton, former community-organizing coordinator for CicLAvia, said that initially after the first CicLAvia, they believed they would be able to double the route. CicLAvia organizers quickly found out the expansion for future CicLAvias would only add an extra one or two miles from one event to the next because funding was tighter than they (thought) it would be, Linton added.

One proposed route for the Boyle Heights expansion goes as far as Whittier Boulevard at the Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles border. While a Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles CicLAvia hub doesn’t look like it will become a reality soon, even incremental offshoots such as expanding to Mariachi Plaza this past April were halted.

The History of the Boyle Heights Expansion

View CicLAvia BH – Final Route in a larger map

Prior to the stalled expansion, CicLAvia met with residents to discuss and ride potential routes. In December 2010, Boyle Heights residents went door to door on Boyle Avenue between Fourth and First Streets letting residents know about a possible route expansion. In August, a larger group toured the varying routes that extended deeper into the neighborhood, passing landmarks including Casa del Mexicano Evergreen Cemetery, and Salazar Park.
Yet, turnout at community meetings was inconsistent, with groups ranging from five to twenty attendees.  Only a handful of attendees represented larger community organizations.

In comparison to Boyle Heights, the South Los Angeles expansion committee created t-shirts, and hosted rides to raise funds and garner interest in a possible expansion. One South L.A. committee member now serves as a trustee on CicLAvia’s board because of his active involvement on the committee.

Linton said that while money is always the first factor in an expansion, community enthusiasm comes second. “It also depends on community groups, politicians . . . that are interested and showing that interest by showing efforts to bring CicLAvia there,” Linton said.

But for Boyle Heights, there is a sort of “chicken and egg” issue with CicLAvia when it comes to the community’s excitement for expansion.Mark Didia, a former volunteer with CicLAvia that headed up the Boyle Heights expansion committee, said that when the route expansion stalled for the October 2011 CicLAvia the momentum also stalled with volunteers. In the months leading up to the event, there were multiple group rides, community outreach activities, and meetings. After October, there was only one committee meeting, and one outreach activity.

Boyle Heights CicLAvia outreach went door to door on December 10, 2011 to notify residents on Boyle Avenue about the April 2012 CicLAvia and about the possibility that it might pass by their home. Photo by Leon Arellano

Further complicating outreach efforts is that many people don’t consider advocacy for CicLAvia or any other bike activity a good use of their time while they struggle with day-to-day needs, explains Laura Torres, a bike advocate and Boyle Heights resident.

“For a lot of the members of our community, continuing our education. . . or paying their rent, becomes more of a priority than organizing for CicLAvia.”

Securing more funds, and reengaging Boyle Heights

While CicLAvia’s finances are an ongoing issue, they have never forced the cancellation of CicLAvia.  The CicLAvia team always manages to secure funds for each individual event, but never enough to build for future CicLAvias. Sometimes this leads to cuts.  In October, people could apply for $500 mini grants to put on activities. But there was not enough money to renew the grant program for the most recent CicLAvia.

Closing streets costs roughly $20,000-$50,000 per mile, said Linton. The cost to close a street depends a lot on crossing points, and if the street affects freeway on and off-ramps. Other cities that have open street festivals similar to CicLAvia such as New York and San Francisco don’t require such substantial fundraising efforts, Linton added.
“Financially, it will be incremental instead of revolutionary,” Linton said of the CicLAvia expansion.

Communication has also been an issue between community members and CicLAvia. In terms of outreach, Gadda said he understands that CicLAvia dropped the ball in keeping contact with its local volunteers. Since Mark Didia left, there hasn’t been a Boyle Heights outreach lead to connect the community and organizations, Gadda said. Arellano, the person who arranged Corazon del Pueblo to host the Boyle Heights expansion committee meetings, said that he didn’t find out the confirmed route for this April until he saw a flyer in March…a flyer that showed an expansion to Mariachi Plaza that didn’t actually happen.

There are organizations currently involved with bike advocacy on the Eastside that are getting more involved with CicLAvia. At this past April’s CicLAvia, groups including the DREAM Riders and members from Building Healthy Boyle Heights began organized rides starting from Hollenbeck Park. The Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade adopted an intersection, and even created a Boyle Heights/CicLAvia shirt design.

“Boyle Heights is ready,” Arellano said.

To donate to CicLAvia, click here.  At this point, there are no meetings planned for the Boyle Heights CicLAvia Committee.  When one is scheduled, Streetsblog will announce it so check back regularly.
(Full Disclosure: Linton is a member of the L.A. Streetsblog editorial board and Building Healthy Boyle Heights is a program of The California Endowment, a major grant maker for L.A. Streetsblog.)

3 thoughts on CicLAvia Heading Deeper Through the Eastside, but When?

  1. I do not understand how the revenue for CicLavia is not growing with the increasing number of participants.

    CicLAvia needs to make more participants aware that the event needs their financial support in order to continue, to expand the size of the route or increase its frequency. You’d be suprised at how much more donations CicLAvia would get if participants would simply be made more aware of what it takes to put on the event. If people love coming to the event, then quite a few of them would certainly be willing to donate if they are made aware of the importance of doing this.

    I handed out LACBC bike stickers on Heliotrope ave at the bicycle district at the last CicLAvia and I found eight of ten people would accept them. So, why not have bike stickers handed out at the busiest entrances to the event and on the back ot it could be a few lines of information like it takes X amount of dollars to hold this event and if each person participating donates $2-3 dollars then we can likely have more or larger events. Or, the back of the stickers could also direct people to the CicLAvia booths to buy something and also tell them where to get assistance.

    Bike stickers can be less than twenty cents apiece, so it would be very inexpensive to hand out thousands. There could also be a collaboration with LACBC where there would be one sticker with information for both of these non-profits.

    I don’t recommend handing out anything larger than bike stickers as people riding do not have much room to store items and its also easier for people to grab stickers when their hands are occupied with something.compared to larger items.. Its also easier to quickly hand out stickers compared to brochures.

    Also, aren’t the businesses along the CicLAvia route donating to the event, such as the food trucks or brick and mortar stores?

    Why not eliminate the north bound streets New Hampshire and Heliotrope, replacing them with a western route. Those two streets are running mainly through residential areas and so changing it to streets with more businesses would have wider streets for more participants and revenue coming in to the area. Also, these two streets run at a incline and decline so those using single speed bikes struggle going uphill north or riders go to fast as they are going south on the decline.

  2. Cost-effectiveness of the City’s required staffing levels seems to be the biggest barrier to expansion.  If every intersection requires 8 City employees, then it’s no wonder the route is limited.  While this is a problem with City services and culture generally, maybe it’s CicLAvia that finally addresses it head on.  At the next CicLAvia there should be an analysis of how many employees are actually needed at each intersection.  Cutting the number of employees from 8 to 4 (still overkill) would double the route length on the same budget, bringing our event more in line with other cities.

  3. At the CicLAvia lecture session at the National APA conference, one attendee recommended contracting with the CA National Guard to manage intersections instead of LAPD.  She suggested that the per person cost is much lower than using police.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

CicLAvia’s Villavaso Responds to Your Questions: NELA CicLAvia? Why South Fig? How Much Does CicLAvia Cost?

|
Following the announcement of CicLAvia’s new route for the 10/7/12 CicLAvia, Stephen Villavaso, a transportation engineer and member of the CicLAvia Steering Committee, volunteered to answer any reader questions.  While he answered some directly in the comments, we’re presenting all of the questions with his answers below. Dennis Hindman: Having a CicLAvia event on a street […]

Advocates Gather in Leimert Park to Hear about CicLAvia Route through South L.A. Planned for December

|
South L.A. residents and advocates gathered at the KAOS Network in Leimert Park last night to learn more about CicLAvia and how the 6-mile route planned through the area on December 7th, 2014, would affect the community. Staff from CicLAvia gave presentations explaining “ciclovias” and describing how the car-free, open streets events had first originated in […]

Changes at CicLAvia: New Route, New Dates

|
Change is in the air for CicLAvia, the gigantic car-free party that has changed the way Angelenos think about their streets.  First, the date for this October’s CicLAvia V has been moved forward from the original date of October 14 to October 7.  With the city planning to bring a space ship through the streets […]