We knew Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa liked CicLAvia. Upon returning from Copenhagen in 2009, he vowed that Los Angeles would have its own “open street festival.”
Twenty-one months later, after a visit from Janette Sadik-Khan and a broken elbow, Los Angeles held CicLAvia. Since then, the city has held six more, and over a million people have taken to the streets. Villaraigosa worked with the City Council and Metro Board of Directors to set aside a million dollars to staff CicLAvia (the non-profit) and see that 2013 held a record three events.
As one of his last acts as Mayor of Los Angeles, he wants to spread the love.
The closest thing a Los Angeles County city not named “Los Angeles” has ever come to CicLAvia is the 2008 “car-free Rose Bowl” event in Pasadena. A motion passed during today’s long and contentious Metro Board of Directors meeting will change that. The motion directs staff to set aside another $2 million for Metro to host a competitive process to award “open streets” grants to other cities to spread the CicLAvia love.
“Expanding CicLAvia at a County level is very exciting,” writes Borja Leon, Deputy Mayor for Transportation for the City of Los Angeles. “Mayor Villaraigosa hopes CicLAvia can continue to grow on LA streets and make pedestrian and cycling a way of life for more Angelenos”
While the “open streets movement” is possible because of CicLAvia’s success, the motion is not another funding mechanism for L.A.’s open streets mega-events. It’s more like a challenge to Santa Monica, Long Beach, Pasadena, Alhambra, Lancaster, and the rest of the cities in L.A. County.
“This is a win for car-free, open streets events,” said CicLAvia Executive Director Aaron Paley. “When we launched our first CicLAvia in 2010, few people knew what an open streets event was. Today’s approval is another indication of the impact CicLAvia is having on policy that will benefit residents throughout Los Angeles County. People at all levels are beginning to see the economic, health, environmental, transportation and social impact that these types of events can have on cities.”
The motion notes that bicycling is up 90% in L.A. County over the last decade and that many cities and L.A. County itself are implementing bicycle plans. It was co-sponsored by Glendale City Council Member Ara Najarian, L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Mel Wilson, one of Villaraigosa’s appointees to the Board of Directors.