Skip to content

Posts from the CicLAvia Category

3 Comments

CicLAvia No.18 Iconic Wilshire Boulevard – Open Thread

xxx

CicLAvia celebrates Wilshire Boulevard. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The eighteenth iteration of CicLAvia touched down on a three-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard yesterday. The Wilshire route extended from Grand Avenue in downtown L.A. to Western Avenue in Koreatown. Organizers had hoped for a longer route, but Metro Purple Line construction has closed a couple of Miracle Mile Wilshire intersections for multiple weekends, so extending further west was not feasible.

With a relatively short route, and hot August weather, the event seemed just a bit little less popular than usual. However, it sure was not empty. There were still tens of thousands of people making their way through the city on foot, bike, and skates–but the event lacked the sometimes-intense crowding that many central L.A. CicLAvias feature.

Did you participate yesterday? What did you think?

More photos after the jump.  Read more…

No Comments

A Brief Interview With CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual

CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual holds up the map from the first CicLAvia on October 10, 2010. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual holds up the map from the first CicLAvia on October 10, 2010. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Romel Pascual is the Executive Director of CicLAvia. If you’re reading Streetsblog L.A., you probably know that the non-profit CicLAvia collaborates with cities to host open streets events throughout Southern California. Pascual and his crew are gearing up for the next CicLAvia event, their Iconic Wilshire Boulevard route, coming up on Sunday August 14.

The interview took place at CicLAvia’s office earlier this week.

SBLA: Tell us about your background – how did you come to this job?

Romel Pascual: I came to this job via public sector work that I’ve done. I served as a Deputy Mayor of L.A. focused on Energy and Environment for many years.

The first time I heard about CicLAvia, was when a group of CicLAvia folks, thinking about doing it in L.A., met with me. They said “we want to do a CicLAvia” and we [in then-Mayor Villaraigosa’s office] essentially said “yes.”

One of the things that we were thinking about then was how do we do a thing like this? This was at a time when L.A. never knew how to close a street. What would it look like?

When we said yes, it was an experiment. It was one of the best experiments that L.A. had done. Now I find it’s hard to think of L.A. without a CicLAvia.

Tell us a bit more about your background – where did you grow up?

I grew up in Southern California, in Long Beach – on the west side of Long Beach. Then moved out to Downey and then went to UCLA. I lived on the Westside for years. Then I went to Grad School in Berkeley. I was there for 12 years before coming back home in 2005. That’s when I joined the city of L.A.

Early on, my best memories of L.A. were when I had a newspaper bike route for the Southeast Newspaper. A lot of us have those memories – being chased by a small dog, as a 12-year-old boy, you pedal as fast as you can. Bicycling around, I knew that the places we lived were really not that far apart from each other. The bike made everything so much closer. Of course, at the time, I made $5 a week which was great to go and buy candy.

What’s coming up for CicLAvia. How about the Wilshire event in August? What’s after that?

We’ve been doing CicLAvia four to five times a year. Mostly every two or three months, there is a CicLAvia coming up, which is great.

We have one on August 14 which is going to be on the iconic Wilshire Boulevard, from Grand to Western. It’s downtown to K-town. The theme for this particular CicLAvia is really about stories. When you think about Wilshire and you sit for a moment, you look around you see the historic-ness of the boulevard, you can imagine the stories one can tell. About Wilshire. And also the stories one can tell about CicLAvia.

There’re so many stories one can tell over the course of the 17 CicLAvia events that we’ve had. Wilshire will be 18, so we’re getting into the adult phase, if you will. We can tell stories from the first time – 10-10-10 – to now. There’re probably hundreds of thousands of stories. On this route, we want to share many of those stories with people.

Then you’re also going to see CicLAvia in October at our iconic Heart of L.A. route, the first route that we did on 10-10-10.

We also want to also move around, to get to different parts of the city and the region, including places like Glendale – Atwater Village to Glendale. Maybe looking at San Pedro and Wilmington – get further south. Then also get further north, we look to the Valley. The Valley is an amazing place. We’ve been to the Valley twice. Then look east and west as well. Places we haven’t been.

So many communities that make up this great region and certainly this great city. We want to hit as many of those as possible.

If you had a magic wand and overnight you could change one thing about our streets, our city, livability – what would be it be?

I mentioned it a little bit earlier. It’s about the joy of being on a bike and the joy of walking around your city. You feel it more when you’re a kid, things look so far away and feel so far away, but when you’re on a bike, and you move around and things become closer.

If there were something that I would change, it would be that people would wake up one day and realize that places are much closer to each other than we think. Drivers travelling on these freeways are stuck in traffic. If we’re on a bike, we realize that communities are literally 20 minutes away from one and other. I just hope that, one day, people realize that you can take a bike and everything becomes much closer. I hope that people will actually believe how close we all are.

If I could have a second wish, while I am at it, I would want to wake up one day to find that the entire length of the L.A. River would have a continuous walk and bike path.

 

1 Comment

Four Years in the Making, CicLAvia Southeast Rides Strong

Sadly, a scheduling snafu meant that I was out of town for CicLAvia Southeast this past weekend. Having to settle for watching the photos pop up on social media was not nearly as good as being there in person. But it was still pretty great, believe it or not.

You see, some of the very first ride events I had attended when I started writing for Streetsblog back in 2012 were in service of bringing CicLAvia to the communities of the Southeast.

CicLAvia Southeast L.A. Host Committee members Mayra Aguilar and Arturo Ramirez bring up the rear with members of the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia Southeast L.A. Host Committee members Mayra Aguilar and Arturo Ramirez bring up the rear of a ride through the Southeast with members of the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz in 2012. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The enthusiasm of the ride participants was infectious and the turnout was often amazing – 200 or 300 riders per event in areas of Los Angeles that were pretty much completely off the map in terms of bike advocacy.

But it also quickly became apparent to me that, for members of the Southeast Bicycle Alliance (SBA) and their supporters, the exploratory rides were about more than just putting on a major open streets event.

The Southeast communities face some of the most pressing environmental challenges in the Los Angeles area — pollution from freeways, the port, oil drilling, and Exide and other toxic industries (past and present) mean children there have a much greater chance of growing up with any number of wholly preventable ailments. Disinvestment in some parts of the region has also resulted in insecurity in those communities’ public spaces, making it hard for some residents to bike and walk for recreation or to build community in the way they might wish to. And the association of cycling with poverty or legal woes, in the minds of some, has meant cycling wasn’t always seen as an honorable or desirable mode of transportation.

But the SBA advocates had envisioned a better future for themselves and their neighbors.

They knew there was much to celebrate about their communities, and they believed their communities deserved the same access to streets as their better-served counterparts in Los Angeles’ core.

Brothers Bryan August-Jones and John Jones III (ESRBC members) jump for joy at the Watts Towers. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Brothers Bryan August-Jones and John Jones III (East Side Riders Bike Club members) jump for joy at the Watts Towers after a ride through Watts. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Perhaps most importantly, they seemed to realize that the process of community engagement involved in putting together a CicLAvia was just as, if not more, important than the staging of the event itself.

Group rides therefore were as much about exploring routes as they were about highlighting commonalities and forging bonds between the riders, tapping into residents’ sense of community pride, and illustrating how cycling could be used to promote equity, justice, and fun. The positivity the rides communicated inspired many to join the growing South L.A. and Southeast cycling communities and launch clubs and/or signature events of their own. As the number of participants grew, long-time residents willingly crossed boundaries into communities they had once shied away from and ride events all over South Los Angeles started feeling like family reunions.

Which is not to say that building all that momentum was easy.

The SBA advocates spent long hours networking, strategizing about how to sell Southeast community leaders on the idea of an open streets event, and trying to convince CicLAvia that heading to the Southeast was a good move. Diplomacy was even required on one exploratory ride a few years ago, when local law enforcement in Huntington Park decided it was problematic to have so many cyclists gathering in a parking lot (the ride’s starting point). We were escorted along Pacific Avenue at a crawl by officers on motorcycles and only left at the border of South Gate once officers were sure we weren’t coming back.

Read more…

3 Comments

CicLAvia XVII Open Thread – Southeast Cities

Yesterday's CicLAvia Southeast Cities included Huntington Park's Pacific Avenue. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday’s CicLAvia Southeast Cities included Huntington Park’s Pacific Avenue. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, CicLAvia touched down in Southeast Los Angeles County for the first time. The 10-mile car-free open streets route included the cities of Huntington Park, Lynwood, and South Gate, and the L.A. City community of Watts and the unincorporated L.A. County communities of Florence-Firestone and Walnut Park.

The popular open streets event filled southeast boulevards with people on foot, bike, skates, and wheelchairs. Lots of families and children enjoyed the car-free streets. Various activity hubs were filled with activities including live music, bounce houses, face-painting, and much more. Neighborhood activity, from pupusa vendors to churches to clothing stores, spilled out onto the streets, interacting with passersbys. Though these events are predominantly cyclists, there were plenty of pedestrians out for a stroll.

xxx

Family enjoying a walk on Tweedy Boulevard in South Gate

Read more…

7 Comments

This Week’s Metro Committees: All-Door Boarding, Bike-Share, Parking, More

Metro's all-door boarding pilot is underway. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro’s operations committee is expected to approve all-door boarding for the Silver Line BRT this week. Photo of the agency’s 2015 Wilshire all-door boarding pilot: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This week’s big Metro announcement, expected Friday, will be the fall ballot measure expenditure plan. Some early Measure R2.1 outlines are already foreshadowed here and at the Los Angeles Times.

That expenditure plan will be huge news, but there is other important Metro business going on at Metro board committee meetings this week. Dollar for dollar, this week’s committee business may not match the budget for the November ballot measure, but, from ciclovías to bike-share to all-door boarding to parking to joint development, these agency decisions can add up to make a difference for the region’s livability.

Below is a run-down of key items on this week’s Metro committee agendas:

Planning and Programming Committee – today 2 p.m. – agenda

  • The committee is expected to authorize an all-paid parking pilot for nine rail stations. This is an excellent step to stop costly-to-provide free parking from hemorraging away Metro’s budget, and for managing parking to better foster equity, improve air quality, and encourage active transportation.
  • The committee will hear a proposal to discount Metro bike-share fares for low-income folks, seniors, and students. This should be one helpful step toward making bike-share service more equitable. More details here.
  • Metro is proposing to fund CicLAvia-type open streets events, similar to the agency’s prior open streets funding cycle. The overall allocation would be $4 million, with $2 million per year for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.
  • The committee will consider joint development plans for parcels at First Street and Soto Street in Boyle Heights, and at Fourth Street and Hill Street in Downtown L.A. (rendering below).
  • Additional committee items include the Union Station run-through tracks (called the Southern California Regional Interconnector Project or SCRIP), double-tracking a portion of Metrolink’s San Bernardino line, and evaluating a proposed Metrolink Station for Rio Hondo College.

Proposed 4th and Hill development in downtown Los Angeles

Proposed 4th and Hill development in downtown Los Angeles would retool Metro Red/Purple Line Pershing Square Station portal. Image via Metro

Construction Committee – tomorrow 9 a.m. – agenda Read more…

12 Comments

CicLAvia XVI Open Thread: CicLAvia in Panorama City, Arleta, Pacoima

Kids take to the streets in Pacoima, during yesterday's CicLAvia. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Kids take to the streets in Pacoima during yesterday’s CicLAvia. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Each open streets event is excellent, and each has its own variations. Yesterday, L.A.’s 16th CicLAvia touched down in the north San Fernando Valley communities of Pacoima, Arleta, and Panorama City.

As I mentioned in a preview, this was the first CicLAvia without a Metro rail station on the route, though there were still plenty of ways to get there, including special Metrolink service.

I would guesstimate that this “CicLAvia – The Valley” route looked perhaps 30 to 40 percent less crowded than a “Heart of Los Angeles” downtown L.A. CicLAvia. There were tens of thousands of people out enjoying themselves, but with a less central location combined with wider roadways, the crowds looked a bit thinner.

What was fun, though, was that it looked like lots of neighbors made their way out into the streets. People hung out in front of apartment buildings, some on narrow lawns, some sitting on the curb. Families walked, strollered, scootered, and bicycled; there were lots of small girls and boys on bikes with training wheels, with parents walking behind. From tax preparers to restaurants, local businesses spilled out into the streets.

How was your CicLAvia day, readers? How did you get to yesterday’s CicLAvia? Let us know in the comments below.

More photos (and upcoming open streets dates) after the jump.  Read more…

3 Comments

What This Gold Line & CicLAvia Weekend Says About So. Cal.’s Future

I am looking forward to this weekend.

My 2-year old daughter Maeve and I will be attending the opening festivities for the Metro Gold Line tomorrow, and we’ll be heading up to the northern San Fernando Valley for CicLAvia on Sunday.

The Foothill Gold Line opens tomorrow!

The Foothill Gold Line opens tomorrow!

If I were transportation investment king, I would not have prioritized building the Gold Line; it is not quite a corridor with high ridership projected. There is too much in the way of free parking. Some of the public art investment is directed more toward freeway drivers than rail riders.

The time for this criticism is in the past, though.

As I attended the Azusa station celebration, and I got to ride a press preview train, I kind of got the bug. Now, I confess I am excited about this shiny new rail infrastructure.

I am glad that the Gold Line will mean that I can much more easily visit my niece and nephew who attend college in Azusa. I am glad more of L.A. County will be within easier reach of my typical bike-transit trip. And I am really glad to see that Foothill Gold Line communities are embracing these stations as opportunities for transit-oriented development and downtown revitalization.

Metrolink will run extra trains to this Sunday's CicLAvia - The Valley

Route map for this Sunday’s CicLAvia – The Valley

This Sunday’s CicLAvia breaks new ground in bringing open streets to San Fernando Valley communities of Pacoima, Arleta, and Panorama City.

If I were CicLAvia king, this wouldn’t be where I would have picked for an open streets event. It will the first CicLAvia route that is not located along a Metro rail route. I think that this might mean more people will drive to get there.

This will be the first, but not the last. Thanks to Metro funding, there are lots and lots of L.A. County open streets events are coming up this year. Not all of them will not be rail-connected; examples include Downey (May 1) to Lawndale (April 25).

I used to think that CicLAvia would have a difficult time working in the San Fernando Valley.

I remember, when I was one of the organizers of L.A.’s first CicLAvia, we were told by a senior law enforcement officer that this kind of event just wouldn’t work in downtown Los Angeles. “This isn’t San Francisco” were his words. Later, many early CicLAvia doubters, including my local senior lead officer, expressed their wholehearted support for CicLAvia after seeing how successful the event was.

Hopefully CicLAvia will change my mind, the way it has changed so many people’s minds. I am looking forward to being proven wrong – to seeing how successful the Valley’s second CicLAvia will be.

All this to say that, despite lots of loud critics in NIMBY factions and the mainstream media, projects like the Foothill Gold Line and CicLAvia – The Valley show me that livability works not just in L.A.’s population-dense pedestrian- and transit-centric core (where I live) but in our farther-flung more car-centric suburban communities, too. These communities want more transportation choices, more health, more walkability, more livability – the same way mine does. Southern California is really undergoing a transformation under our noses, even if I feel like I am slogging through the rearguard trenches many days.

It is weekends like this one that give me hope for my city. And for the city my daughter will move through.

3 Comments

Metrolink Adds Train Service to San Fernando Valley CicLAvia this Sunday

Metrolink will run extra trains to this Sunday's CicLAvia - The Valley

Metrolink will run extra trains to this Sunday’s CicLAvia – The Valley. Map via CicLAvia

Good news! Metrolink will be running extra trains this Sunday so folks can get to CicLAvia – The Valley. This Sunday’s event will the first CicLAvia without an on-route connection to Metro rail. Participants can bike to CicLAvia from the Metro Red Line North Hollywood Station, but that is a 7-mile ride (about three miles on the Orange Line bike path) to the southern tip of the CicLAvia route at Van Nuys Boulevard and Roscoe Boulevard.

The added Metrolink service means CicLAvia participants can board trains at downtown L.A.’s Union Station, get off at Van Nuys’ Metrolink Station, then bike (or walk) just 0.8 mile to CicLAvia.

Per Metro spokesperson Brett Thomas:

Metrolink will operate limited service on the Ventura County Line between Union Station and Van Nuys Station on Sunday, March 6, 2016, in support of CicLAvia – The Valley. The train will make all stops between the two stations and will offer two “Bike Cars” on each train. Ambassadors will be on the platform to guide participants to the event.

The Ventura line trains (which normally do not run on weekends) will operate on the following schedule this Sunday:  Read more…

3 Comments

Your Friday Video of Zen: DTLA Street Futures (Featuring CicLAvia)

 

What will the future streets of Los Angeles look like? And what sorts of innovations, interventions, infrastructure, interconnections, and events will help us get there? And can we get there in a way that is sustainable, grounded in community experiences, and does not displace residents of communities that have experienced historical disinvestment?

Digital artist, filmmaker, and Ph.D. candidate at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Karl Baumann raises many of these questions using lovely drone footage of CicLAvia: Heart of L.A. and the voices of a handful of younger planners and advocates who ponder a future where “experience [is] driven by two wheels rather than four” and “design [is] driven by real issues of sustainability, livability, and affordability.”

“With the passing of LA’s Mobility Plan 2035,” Baumann believes, “we’re seeing the bright glimpses of a new paradigm shift for the city. The future of LA will be about local placemaking, pedestrian culture, and sustainability. The emphasis on private cars speeding from one neighborhood to another will become a thing of the past. It’ll become a fading dream of an old utopian impulse, laid out by GM’s ‘Futurama’ exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair.”

Any paradigm shift, he acknowledges, always comes with a backlash. And L.A.’s experience has been no different. Behind Fix the City’s lawsuit and bizarre characterization of bike- and transit-dependent folks as seeking to “steal” lanes from beleaguered drivers and the concerns of more moderate opponents who fear transit will never be able to meet their needs is a common desire to defend and only lightly amend the known evil, Baumann says, rather than “rally around a not-yet-built imagined infrastructure.”

Events like CicLAvia, Baumann argues, give us a common point of reference from which to begin to rethink how our city should be designed. Experiencing safe, car-free streets firsthand, he says, can help skeptics imagine a more bike-centric future. Rubbing shoulders with the diverse mix of Angelenos seen at CicLAvia can also help to dispel the myth that cycling is the purview of well-to-do hipsters. And seeing the extent to which cyclists at open streets events outnumber those commuting on a daily basis might make it easier for skeptics to understand the role protective bike infrastructure can play in emboldening those who are currently too afraid to cycle L.A.’s mean streets.

The video focuses on Downtown, Baumann says, because it has become a vital test lab and potential crystal ball for the redesigning of the city. And also because, he adds, the development there also hints at the “dark side of our bright future.” Read more…

5 Comments

CicLAvia XV Open Thread: 5 Years, 15 Events, And A Little Rain

CicLAvia XV takes over downtown L.A.'s 7th Street. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia XV takes over downtown L.A.’s 7th Street. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia hosted its 15th Open Streets festival yesterday. The Heart of L.A. route was similar to the now-familiar and always-a-hit initial October 10, 2010, route, with hubs at MacArthur Park, City Hall, and Hollenbeck Park, plus an added spur up into Chinatown. The route included plenty of great architecture, excellent transit connections, and of course tens of thousands of smiling faces.

This was the first CicLAvia to be blessed with a bit of rain. Early arrivals experienced scattered showers, which cleared up just before the 9 a.m. start time, leaving the air clean and the route damp. Attendance was abundant, but may have been slightly off due to the rain.

Below are a few photos highlighting the opening ceremonies and the latest great CicLAvia event.

One pleasant and unusual site was the Portraits of Hope art installation at MacArthur Park.

One pleasant and unusual site was the Portraits of Hope art installation at MacArthur Park.

Read more…