Streetsblog Reader Questionnaire: CicLAvia’s Stephen Villavaso


An impromptu interview with Villavaso at San Francisco Sunday Streets, March 2011

Following the announcement of the dramatically different route for CicLAvia that came over the weekend, there’s a lot to discuss.  Later this week, both Kris Fortin and Sahra Sulaiman will have pieces on local reactions to the new route in Boyle Heights and South L.A respectively.  Given how important CicLAvia is to the Livable Streets and Streetsblog communities, we wanted to give you a chance to get any questions you have on the new route answered.

Stephen Villavaso is a professional transportation engineer with the Skanska group, known to many Streetsbloggers as the transportation engineers working on the Expo Bikeway in Culver City, West L.A. and Santa Monica.  Villavaso is also a member of the CicLAvia steering committee and has been since the beginning.  Without his expertise, CicLAvia might never have happened, and he has a huge role in helping create the routes and maps for all the CicLAvias.

Stephen agreed to answer any questions that Streetsblog readers might have regarding the new route.  Get your questions in by 5 p.m. on Wednesday and he’ll answer them as quickly as possible in a post here on Streetsblog.  You can leave questions in the comments section, or our Facebook page, or @lastreetsblog on Twitter.

  • Was there consideration given to connecting up the new southern section on Figueroa over to Central Avenue (for example) and back up to create more of a through-flow rather than a stop-and-turnaround endpoint? If so, what were the factors that prevented it from being implemented?

  • Anon

    There’s been some talk about how CicLAvia has to raise a ton of money as opposed to non-profits in other cities.  How much did fundraising factor into eliminating the start at Heliotrope and Melrose?

  • Stephen Villavaso

    Hi Will. Yes, CicLAvia South LA Host Committee studied connections to Central Avenue from a few different directions, including one that extended east from Figueroa/USC. The biggest hurdle that we’ve encountered with getting to Central Avenue is crossing Metro Blue Line and Expo Line tracks. The CicLAvia route is currently limited to approximately 10 miles in length, and we cannot go around the tracks without exceeding that limit. The additional length was the limiting factor since we also wanted to maintain the Downtown portion of the route and expand into Boyle Heights. Metro and LADOT share concerns about light rail operations at the potential railroad crossings during a CicLAvia. Neither agency has developed a plan to maintain CicLAvia participants’ safety while limiting impacts to transit service. At one point, someone suggested reaching out to the Army Corp of Engineers to see if they would build a temporary pedestrian bridge across the tracks. A temporary CicLAvia bridge may be possible someday (and rad too), but I’m convinced that an at grade solution is completely feasible. 

  • Stephen Villavaso

    Hi Anon, Thanks for your question. Contrary to what you have heard, funding is a challenge for most ciclovia programs (although to varying degrees). Even the original Ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia, must expend effort on development to raise the funding necessary to continue their program. Nevertheless, fundraising was not a factor in our decision to remove the westernmost portion of the route for this October’s CicLAvia. That decision was primarily based on our goal of expanding the route into new areas.  We are currently limited to a maximum overall length of approximately 10 miles (due to our own staff capacity, as well as that of LADOT).  The Heliotrope/Melrose leg is a part of our repertoire that we’ll hopefully revisit as we experiment with other westerly and northerly expansion in the future. 

  • Stephen Villavaso

    Nothing specifically in the works that I am aware of, but it certainly should!

  • Dennis Hindman

    Having a CicLAvia event on a street which is scheduled to have bicycle infrastructure installed, such as south Figueroa St, is a great way for some businesses along the route to see the financial benefits of cycling and can also help increase bike ridership in an area, while building residents support for bicycle infrastructure by giving them the opportunity to ride a bike without the stress imposed by vehicles.

    Was the upcoming South Figueroa St project cycletracks installation a consideration in choosing this leg of the route and will this street be repeated in the following CicLAvia?

  • Like Stepehen said, there is nothing specifically in the works

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