Changes at CicLAvia: New Route, New Dates

The new CicLAvia Map for 10/7/2012. To go to the CicLAvia website for a higher resolution version of the map, click on the image. To download a pdf. of the map, ##http://la.streetsblog.org/wp-content/pdf/100712_map_print.pdf##click here.##

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 on the weekend of October 14, CicLAvia obliged the city and space fans by agreeing to move this event to October 7.  The streets will open to bicyclists, pedestrians and all non-motorized road users at 10 am and remain open until 3 pm on the 7th.  Details of the spaceship’s parade route have yet to be announced.

But an even bigger change than the date is the route.  The core of the CicLAvia route remains intact on 7th and Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles, but all of the route’s “arms” have changed.  Gone are the “starting points” at Hollenbeck Park in East L.A. and the Heliotrope/Melrose “Bike District” in East Hollywood.  Instead, the western most point of CicLAvia V is at MacArthur Park in Mid-Town and the eastern most point is Soto Station on the Gold Line.

Aaron Paley is one of the first steering committee members for CicLAvia.  In simplest terms, he explains the new route as a “north-south” route with arms going east and west instead of the opposite.  He also says the dramatically changed route is the first of many changes that will be coming to CicLAvia in the coming years.

“We don’t want to repeat the same route over and over again,” Paley explains. “We want to set the precedent that CicLAvia is not set to one area, and not for just the streets we started out with….This is in effect a harbinger of things to come.”

The new route is actually a little smaller than the previous two, measuring 9.1 miles.  But the new routes and new destinations should provide plenty of new attractions for the cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders and everyone else who take over the streets.

South L.A. and Exposition Park

Click on the image for the full map at the CicLAvia website.

The most dramatic change is the new “South L.A. Spur.”  At CicLAvia IV last April and CicLAvia III in October 2011, a spur shooting southeast on 9th street took CicLAvia participants from downtown Los Angeles to Central Avenue before stopping at the African American Firefighter Museum.  This October, the route heads South on Figueroa Street, on from the famed intersection of “7th and Fig” south past Staples Center and L.A. Live, under the I-10, and past Washington and Adams before stopping near the University of Southern California at Exposition Park.

“We want CicLAvia to make connections between neighborhoods,” says Paley.  “One of these connections we wanted to make was going south into South L.A.”

Community groups have expressed support for extending the route farther south on Central Avenue.  The routes from CicLAvia III and IV stopped at the Firefighter Museum on Central Ave., but extending it farther south on that street was harder than it appeared.

“We were on Central with the intent going all the way south past the freeway into the heart of South Los Angeles.  We’ve been thwarted on that front by the train tracks.  So we looked somewhere new,” explains Paley.

This route down Figueroa provides two opportunities to get more people involved and provide new experiences for Angelenos new to the area.  First, the area around USC has the highest concentration of bicyclists than any other part of the city. Getting a greater involvement from these cyclists, and the campus itself would be “fun to tap into,” and could create a different feel for CicLAvia.

The second new attractions is Exposition Park itself.  As Paley puts it the park is both “well known and unknown” to a lot of Angelenos noting both its iconic reputation and local usage.  The park has been a part of Los Angeles since 1872 and in addition to the large parcel of open space and the Coliseum is also home to the California Museum of Science and Industry (Exposition Building), National Armory, Domed National History Museum and the Sunken Garden (which in 1928 was later renamed the Rose Garden).

Last but not least, Exposition Park has its own train station.  “We knew the Expo Line was going to open, and that made it all the sweeter,” Paley says of the decision to stop the route at Exposition Park.  For Westsiders or residents of Culver City, CicLAvia can seem a long way away, especially for occasional cyclists who don’t want to risk not getting a place on a bike rack.  The Expo Line makes commuting to CicLAvia a much shorter, and easier, proposition.

The new  route may look awfully familiar to Streetsblog readers as it mirrors a large portion of the South Figueroa Corridor Project.  CicLAvia I on October 10, 2010 heralded the now-popular 7th Street Bike Lanes.  Will the CicLAvia South L.A. herald a successfully implemented separated bike lane?

And for those that worry that the new route doesn’t take people to the heart of South L.A.?  “This is just the start,” promises Paley.

East L.A./Boyle Heights

Click on the image to see the full map on the CicLAvia website.

Any Boyle Heights residents disappointed after CicLAvia maps mistakenly showed the route extending Mariachi Plaza last April will be happy to see the route extend not just to Mariachi Plaza but to just past the next Gold Line Station, Soto Station.  The new East L.A. route will pass many Boyle Heights cultural landmarks including the famed Mariachi Plaza and local favorites such as the Libros Schmibros used book store and lending library.

However, the new route through some of the cultural spots in East L.A. forced CicLAvia to cut off the original east spur to Hollenbeck Park.  This spur had been the only East L.A. spur for the first four CicLAvias.  It wasn’t a cost issue that moved CicLAvia away from Hollenbeck.  CicLAvia’s team had always wanted to do something different on the Eastside, but doing both the Hollenbeck route and the 1st Street route proved a practical problem.

“People living between 1st Street and 4th Street would literally be trapped in a couple of block area if they weren’t participating,” explains Paley.  “There would have been CicLAvia on three sides and a freeway on the other.”

Chinatown and Grand Park

For the full route map, click on the image to visit the CicLAvia website.

For the past two CicLAvias, participants had the option to shoot north off 1st Street in Downtown Los Angeles past City Hall and then up to El Pueblo.  This October, the route continues further into the heart of Chinatown along Broadway.  Plans to extend the route this far north for CicLAvia IV were scrapped because organizers of a Chinese New Year parade worried that the parade attendees and CicLAvia participants would be too large a crowd.

Just as the stop at Exposition Park takes CicLAvia farther South than any previous route, the Chinatown spur provides a northern expansion.  The distance between the two hubs is almost four miles as the crow flies, providing participants a chance to explore two very different parts of Los Angeles.

Technically, the existing route from CicLAvia III and IV both traveled past what wil be Grand Park, 12-acre park that will stretch from Grand Avenue at the Music Center to Spring Street at City Hall.  With the park’s opening set for July 28th, CicLAvia will be the first chance many Angelenos have to explore the new swath of open space in Downtown Los Angeles.

Farewell Bike District

The main casualty for the new route is the traditional “start” at the Bike District at the corner of Heliotrope and Melrose.  The District, which until recently housed the Bicycle Kitchen, was long considered the hub of Los Angeles’ DIY bike culture, and there are few DIY projects as large as CicLAvia.  Maybe one day a future CicLAvia will head from Barnsdall Park down Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards towards Downtown Los Angeles, passing just two blocks from the Bike Kitchen’s new home just east of Fountain and Virgil Avenues.

Transit Access

With the new spurs to Exposition Park in South L.A. and 1st Street in East L.A., CicLAvia is connecting the event to Los Angeles’ growing rail network.  Exposition Park is one of the largest light rail stops on the Expo Line and by switching out a route to Hollenbeck Park for a route along 1st Avenue, there are many Gold Line Eastside Extension stops right on the route including the iconic Mariachi Plaza.  For those coming south on the Gold Line from Pasadena or Northeast Los Angeles, the Chinatown stop on Spring and College is just one block from the CicLAvia’s northern spur into Chinatown.

According to Paley, this isn’t a coincidence.

“We want CicLAvia to have an impact beyond the event day,” supplies Paley. “A lot of people ride Metro to CicLAvia for the first time.  We like that a lot too.”

Follow-up

Have questions about the new route?  Leave them in the comments section.  We’ll be doing a question and answer session with Stephen Villavaso and Streetsblog readers next week.  Villavaso is a transportation engineer with Skansa and a member of the CicLAvia steering committee.  He’ll be available to answer all your CicLAvia related questions.  Check back on Monday for more details on the Q and A.

  • Erik Griswold

    I hope CalTrans and the CHP have the common sense to close off the freeway access points around this CicLAvia, especially the I-10 @ Grand off- and on-ramps. 

    Given that such decisions are likely ultimately being made by people who have never seen CicLAvia and are  resident far outside downtown Los Angeles, my confidence in common sense prevailing is very low.

    “We must move more cars” after all.

  • Erik Griswold

    The last CicLAvia was held during the national American Planners Association convention which was in Los Angeles this year.  I think it made quite an impression on those visitors to our city who may have gone home to spread the gospel.

    The origianal  date for October CicLAvia was to be during the national RailVolution Conference which is also occuring  in Los Angeles this year.  An opportunity will be missed for those participants to see first hand bikes on transit, rail and otherwise, which they might take home to their communities.

    Make sure you take lots of pictures!

  • Dennis Hindman

    The new route down Figueroa St to the Expo Line and USC is a fantastic idea. It will a motivation for people on the westside to try out the Exposition Line in order to participate in CicLAvia and there will likely be thousands of USC students joining in on this free festival. This will give USC students another reason to go out and purchase a bicycle which could then be used for traveling to and from classes.

    Having part of the route along where the future So. Figureora project will be likely will build enthusiastic support for this upcoming project. Businesses will quickly be able to see the financial benefits to them for having thousands of people ride along cycle tracks on South Figueroa St.

    I would expect the combination of the Expo Line from downtown to the beach, biking by the USC students, the South Figueroa cycle tracks and the CIcLAvia events to greatly spur an increase in bicycling on, or in the surrounding areas of south Figueroa St.

    I like that the Heliotrope link of the previous route was eliminated. This was becoming a choke point for the thousands of cyclists heading south from this point and it had several inclines or declines which created struggles for people with single speeds (espcially elementary school aged or younger). The much faster speeds that people were going on the declines was creating accidents and near misses with young kids as people would blindly whip around the corners on their bikes.

  • calwatch

    Well when the Space Shuttle gets moved, like when they moved the giant rock, that ends up becoming a de facto Ciclavia along its route.

  • calwatch

    In terms of the route, it balances things so that people won’t feel compelled to think of Ciclavia as a linear route. I would actually prefer in the April 2013 iteration to go more north-south and focus attention on the areas of Cypress Park, Highland Park, and Lincoln Heights, with smaller arms toward Macarthur Park and Little Tokyo.

  • Anonymous

    Just let us know where the food trucks are gonna be. :)

  • Dennis Hindman

    A lot of the participants in CicLAvia arrive by car. They piggyback their bikes onto the car and then drive to the event.

  • Dennis Hindman

    I forgot to mention that I’ve handed out hundreds of Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition bicycle stickers at CicLAvia events and when people respond ‘no thanks, I don’t live around here’, I respond ‘where are you from?’ Some of the responses have been San Diego, Clairemont, Ventura County, Orange County, Palm Springs and Austria (she came just for the event and arrived with two people from Palm Springs). It would be very disappointing to these people if they couldn’t get to the event because the freeways exits were closed.

  • Erik Griswold

    Dennis, this may be true, but those individuals can exit the “free”way elsewhere.  The ramps near the CicLAvia route are too dangerous to remain open.

  • Erik Griswold

    Note I did not say “shut down all  freeways” or “shut down every ramp in the city of Los Angeles”.  I was referring to the obvious ramps of I-10 at Grand, SR110 at 7th and US101 at whatever.  But of course the auto uber alles will prevail because people might be “dissapointed” if their god-given right to exit the freeway was hindered in any way.

  • Anonymous

    Dennis, interesting that you meet so many people from Orange County, San Diego County, etc. Perhaps those people are starved for walking and cycling where they live.

    People show up in a car, enjoy the event, and then go back to their hometowns and perhaps advocate for the same there.

  • Happycow_m00

    I grew up in this area and based on the map for Oct. I don’t see how or why a ramp should be closed. The route is essentially down Figueroa last time I checked which was Thursday when I rode to the Staples store on Fig there are NO On or Off ramps on Figueroa itself. The ramps for the 10 and 110 are parallel/adjacent to Fig or Washington or Grand or Hope.

  • Time for The Militant to start cooking up a new Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour post come October 5!

  • Am I mistaken, or is this one less hour than in the past? 

  • Will do :)

  • Anonymous

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