This Sunday is CicLAvia! Wooot! Wooooooot! The route is all along Wilshire Boulevard – from Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. all the way to Fairfax Avenue in Miracle Mile. There are lots of great guides already published on-line, including at the CicLAvia website, so SBLA won’t be encyclopedic here, but we do, in honor of April 6th, have six general tips for all CicLAvia participants, and six tips specifically for cyclists.
Six Tips for Everyone:
- Don’t plan ahead. At least don’t plan too much. Be spontaneous. If you’re zipping from your 9:30 a.m. yoga appointment to your 10 a.m. kids bike safety lesson to your 11 a.m. architecture tour, then you may be missing a lot of what makes CicLAvia great. Yes, maybe plan to do something at a specific place and time, but also leave time to run into friends, make new friends, listen to music, etc. Be spontaneous. Be open to the unexpected – and you will see something or someone you didn’t expect. Don’t try to get from one end of the route to the other quickly, or you might be stressed and disappointed.
- Get there early. There’s a lot going on. Things – restaurants, bike parking, hubs, streets – fill up and actually get congested as the day goes on. The streets are much more wide open right at 9 a.m. (Don’t tell LAPD or LADOT that I told you this, but the streets are pretty much entirely closed to cars by 8:30 a.m. or so.) Get there early, stop for lunch, and take other breaks.
- Walk tours. Wilshire and CicLAvia aren’t just about bikes, people walk too! If you’re on a bike, you can actually walk with the bike alongside you, for comfort, kind of like a security blanket. If you’re looking for a somewhat-structured walking experience, L.A. Walks recommends three different tours:
9 a.m. – departing One Wilshire hub downtown – L.A. Leggers walk and run – details
9 a.m. – departing Miracle Mile hub – City Planning Department walks – details
11 a.m. – departing Wilshire/Western – Koreatown architecture tour – details
- Check out great architecture: Wilshire’s got great buildings; you might even call them iconic. See plenty of detail in CicLAvia’s and the Militant Angeleno‘s guides. Pick up a printed guide at a hub. Some of my favorite historic buildings, on and very near the route – listed east to west, include:
Park Plaza Hotel – 607 South Park View St. – gorgeous stately former-luxury-hotel, amazing huge sculptures
Bullocks Wilshire – 3050 Wilshire Blvd. – incredible former landmark department store, now a law school
Chapman Market – 3465 W. 6th St – elegant, and arguably L.A.’s very first strip mall
Wiltern Theater – 3790 Wilshire Blvd. – sweet green-tiles historic skyscraper
- Explore and photograph. Support local bike groups by doing New Belgium’s photo scavenger hunt. CicLAvia images and videos are changing the way Angelenos (and the world) think of L.A.’s streets. Help people imagine Los Angeles’ safer, saner future by taking and sharing pictures of it today! Well, er, this Sunday.
- Spend money. Bring your wallet. Don’t pack lunch and snacks. Don’t even bring bottled water. Go into a store, a restaurant, a museum, etc. along the route (or a block or two nearby), and buy something. You don’t even have to spend a lot because there’s so many of us that it adds up quickly. There are studies that show that merchants think parking is key to their success, but it’s really foot traffic. Please spend. Prove to Wilshire’s merchants that walking and bicycling is actually really good for business. Spending a few dollars makes merchants happy, which leads to them being more receptive to their streets being car-free more often.
Six Tips Specifically for Cyclists:
- Don’t wear lycra. Don’t wear those clickity-clackity shoes either. There are a lot of people out there who think that we cyclists are all young, fit, daredevil olympians who need space-age wicking fabrics, tricked-out sunglasses, tight-fitting shorts, and all kinds of other expensive accouterments before we put foot to pedal. CicLAvia is one great chance to show that everyone can bike in the same clothes we wear every day. (If you’re really into wearing lycra, maybe bring a t-shirt and a pair of shorts to wear over it.)
- Bring a friend. Bring families, kids, husbands, domestic partners, nieces, etc. Your non-cyclist friends probably think that three miles is a long way to ride. CicLAvia is a great way to demonstrate to them that, especially for short trips, cycling is, gasp, easy – let’s do more! Tell your non-biking friends that you’re only going to ride an hour or two (don’t talk distances, just times), with plenty of stops for snacks and lunch. Your friends may be surprised at how far they can go.
- Bring a lock. If you have them, bring a couple of locks, and a cable. This goes with number 6 above. You’ll be stopping to spend some money. Some less-enlightened (meaning someone who hasn’t read Streetsblog L.A. daily for at least a couple years) friend of yours won’t have brought a lock. Make it easy on yourself to stop and lock and spend money.
- Bring bike tools. Bring your pump, a spare tube, chain grease, etc. There are a lot of new and infrequent riders out there at CicLAvia. Some of them are on borrowed bikes. Some of them have their seats too low. Some of them have their tires not inflated enough. Some have whiny chains you can hear from a block away. CicLAvia is your chance to lend a helping hand to a stranger and make their day. Let them think that bicyclists are so much nicer than they perhaps expected us to be – so the next time someone proposes a bike lane in their neighborhood, they’ll welcome it with open arms.
- Slow down, and where it’s called for, walk your bike. There are pedestrians, skaters, wheelchairs out there. Very young children, too, including Streetsblog writers’ baby daughters (And pre-school age children on bikes! – DN). Especially when it gets crowded, later in the day and around hubs, you will need to slow down. Slow way way down. At speeds less than ~5mph, it’s easier to just get off your bike and walk it.
- Be nice. Remember the way many drivers treat us every day? Well, now you’re the faster one with more speed and momentum. There are plenty of vulnerable road users around you: pedestrians, of course, but also beginner cyclists, kids, elderly. It’s not a race. It’s not really even a workout. There are pedestrians that want to cross the route – yield and stop – and, if needed, help them get across. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. Respect.