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Posts from the "CicLAvia" Category

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CicLAvia Begins Outreach Process in Boyle Heights for Oct. 5th Event

CicLAvia volunteers conduct outreach along Cesar Chavez Ave. in Boyle Heights. Erick Huerta/Streetsblog LA

CicLAvia volunteers conduct outreach along Cesar Chavez Ave. in Boyle Heights. Erick Huerta/Streetsblog LA

¿Conoce CicLAvia?” (Are you familiar with CicLAvia?) and “¿Sabe qué es una ciclovía?” (Do you know what a ciclovía is?) were two of the questions SBLA writers Erick Huerta and Sahra Sulaiman found themselves asking Boyle Heights residents and business owners while canvassing the area with representatives of CicLAvia recently.

The goal of the first round of outreach for the October 5th event, set to run from Echo Park to East LA by way of the heart of Boyle Heights, was to give business owners and residents along the route time to prepare alternate parking or business plans around the street closures.

To that end, Volunteer Coordinator Henny Alamillo had armed volunteers Christopher Cameron and Jon Leibowitz with multi-lingual flyers that explained CicLAvia, touted the significant spike in revenue experienced by businesses that engaged event-goers, presented the map of the route, and suggested the myriad ways residents could participate in the event.

All of which would seem to be enough to get the message about CicLAvia across.

But, as Sahra and Erick ascertained (while serving as volunteers/translators), while cycling enthusiasts are largely familiar with the car-free, open streets event, it is still an unfamiliar concept to many, and to non-cyclists, non-English speakers, and lower-income community members, in particular.

The lack of familiarity with CicLAvia in Boyle Heights should not be all that surprising.

Casual observation (supported by some, albeit limited, data) would suggest that the majority of participants in such events are not lower-income and/or minority residents (although, this appears to slowly be changing over time, as well). And, as many of those same residents have limited Internet access and/or are not regular followers of livable streets issues when online, they haven’t seen much in the way of CicLAvia’s outreach campaigns.

While volunteers left notices taped over mailboxes at residents, Sahra knocked on doors to speak with those that were at home. Erick Huerta/Streetsblog LA

While volunteers left notices taped over mailboxes at residences, Sahra knocked on doors to speak with those that were at home. Erick Huerta/Streetsblog LA

But the reactions of the community were about more than just a lack of familiarity with the event.

Sahra found that those residents along St. Louis St. that had heard of CicLAvia weren’t sure that it was something they would be able to participate in. As Boyle Heights is a more family- and pedestrian-oriented community, the association of the event with bicycles made many think they might have to sit on the sidelines and watch as others rolled through their neighborhood. Others thought it might be a race.

For this reason, the one-on-one conversations with folks turned out to be key.

Being able to open the conversation with a description of the event as an effort to convert the streets into a park that families and children could stroll and play in for a day helped make it more relatable and accessible for residents.

In response, those that had small children with them often pointed at the kids and described the challenge of finding spaces where the kids could play safely. The poor condition of the area’s sidewalks, many said, made it hard for kids to use their riding toys around their homes or while the family ran errands.

The conversations were also important in helping people digest the information on the flyers. Read more…

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Advocates Gather in Leimert Park to Hear about CicLAvia Route through South L.A. Planned for December

He of many hats, Tafarai Bayne, speaks about the ways South LA can benefit from hosting December's CicLAvia. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Tafarai Bayne, he of many hats, speaks about the ways South LA can benefit from hosting December’s CicLAvia. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

South L.A. residents and advocates gathered at the KAOS Network in Leimert Park last night to learn more about CicLAvia and how the 6-mile route planned through the area on December 7th, 2014, would affect the community.

Staff from CicLAvia gave presentations explaining “ciclovias” and describing how the car-free, open streets events had first originated in concerns about the unhealthy conditions of city streets.

As people embraced them, they explained, the events evolved into important opportunities for community building. Open streets events here and around the country are now seen as key to creating vibrant public spaces, promoting active transportation and good health, bringing together diverse populations, and giving residents a fun and safe way explore new corners of their city.

And, they reassured the audience, the event is inclusive and welcomes pedestrians, skateboarders, and anyone else interested in leaving their car at home for a day.

Then, Tafarai Bayne, former CicLAvia board member and current member of the Board of Transportation Commissioners, put up a (still-being-finalized) map of the route that will run between Leimert Park and the Jazz District (below).

He told the group that, as it appears at the moment, Leimert Park Village (at the end of the route, at bottom left) will serve as the anchor of one hub and the other, Central Ave., will be closed between Washington and Vernon.

King Blvd. will serve as the connective (and, many will be pleased to know, flat) corridor between the two.

Organizers had originally considered staging some of the route along Crenshaw so that event participants could more easily access the Expo Line, but the construction of the Crenshaw Line has left much of the street in very poor condition.

The latest version of the South L.A. route runs largely along King Blvd. between Leimert Park Village and the Jazz District.

The latest version of the South L.A. route runs largely along King Blvd. between Leimert Park Village and the Jazz District. Yellow points signal crossing points for cars. Central will be closed between Washington and Vernon. Click to enlarge.

The route is exciting because it will offer families in park-poor South L.A. the opportunity to turn their streets into a giant park for a day — one that they can play in as they see fit. Given how much the community enjoys the King Day parade along King Blvd., I have no doubt that it will be a smashing success.

But it is even more exciting because it is so rare that South L.A. is considered a destination to be celebrated.

That step forward represents a personal and emotional victory for advocates like Bayne, one of South L.A.’s more recognizable ambassadors.

Read more…

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Two New CicLAvia Routes Announced For October and December 2014

Earlier this week, CicLAvia released new route maps for the final two CicLAvia events coming up in 2014.

Just in case readers are unfamiliar with CicLAvia, it is a free open streets event that takes place a few times each year. Streets are closed to car traffic, and open for walking, bicycling, skating, and wheelchairs. Past events have drawn more than 100,000 participants. Watch this Streetfilm to get an idea for just how fun and how inclusive these events can be.

Here is a quick overview of the upcoming routes.

Map

Map of the October 5, 2014, CicLAvia Heart of L.A. event. Image via CicLAvia

The Sunday, October 5, 2014, CicLAvia is called “Heart of Los Angeles.”

Though it is similarly anchored in Downtown Los Angeles, the October 2014 route will be quite a bit different from past Heart of L.A. events. The new route does not include some past highlights: Hollenbeck Park, Spring Street, 7th Street, or MacArthur Park.

There are lots of great new highlights not seen on CicLAvia before:

  • Echo Park – newly refurbished and reopened
  • Second Street Tunnel – arguably an L.A. bike culture landmark: featured on frequent midnight rides, site of Wolfpack Hustle’s Drag Races, and the city’s first more-or-less protected bike lanes
  • Second Street through Little Tokyo – past routes included First Street there
  • Broadway – featuring some of the L.A.’s very best historic architecture
  • Cesar Chavez Avenue – one of the main commercial corridors through Boyle Heights and into Unincorporated East L.A.
  • Evergreen Cemetery – one of L.A.’s great old graveyards, surrounded by an innovative rubber-sidewalk jogging path
  • East L.A. Civic Center – including its handsome park with large lake feature

This will be the first CicLAvia to extend east into unincorporated L.A. County territory. The route remains very accessible from the Metro Red, Purple, and Gold Lines and a very short walk or ride from Union Station and Metro’s Expo and Blue Lines.

Though Metro has supported past CicLAvias, this will be the first event funded though Metro’s new open streets program. Read more…

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Metro Round-Up: LAX, Open Streets, New Reps on Technical Committee

Concept rendering for new LAX rail station. Green Line and Crenshaw Line light rail  run at grade, below future "automated people mover." Image via Metro staff report

Concept rendering for new LAX rail station at 96th Street and Aviation Bo. Green Line and Crenshaw Line light rail run at grade (visible in the middle right), below future “automated people mover” (visible in the upper right). Image via Metro staff report [PDF]

At yesterday’s Metro Board Meeting, directors approved a handful of initiatives that have great implications for the future livability of the Los Angeles Region. Here is the re-cap:

Technical Committee Adds Pedestrian and Bike Representatives

The Metro Board approved adding two new active transportation representatives to the agency’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). In addition to new TAC members representing bicycle and pedestrian transportation experts, the motion [pdf] approved yesterday also added a non-voting public health representative.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Safe Routes to School National Partnership have pushed for long-overdue Metro TAC expansion. The TAC includes a representative from the Automobile Association of America, but no one advocating for active transportation. Earlier this year, Streetsblog previewed TAC expansion. Since that earlier article, the somewhat half-hearted proposal was strengthened by a March 2014 motion from Metro boardmember Mike Bonin.

Here’s what the LACBC’s Eric Bruins had to say about yesterday’s Metro board action:

It’s about time for Metro to embrace multi-modalism throughout the culture of the agency, including their advisory committees. This committee is involved in the nuts-and-bolts of decision-making at Metro, so it’s important to have people at the table constantly viewing agency actions through a lens of how they impact walking, biking, and public health throughout the county.

Open Streets Events Expanding Throughout L.A. County

SBLA covered the expansion of CicLAvia-type open streets events when Metro staff recommendations were circulated about a month ago. As LongBeachize previewed, representatives from the city of Long Beach attended the Metro Board meeting, expressing their concerns over Metro’s selection criteria. Metro awarded funding to only one event to each applicant city before funding any additional events hosted by the same city. Proportionally, this puts the cities of Los Angeles (population 4,000,000) and Long Beach (population 500,000) on equal footing with Lawndale (population 34,000) and Culver City (population 40,000). (Population figures here.)

Though Metro board member John Fasana expressed that Metro should “re-tool” in future open streets funding cycles, the board approved the staff recommendations unchanged. Lots more ciclovías coming to lots of neighborhoods over the next couple years!

Rail Connection with LAX Approved

Despite boardmember Mike Bonin expressing some concerns (including very low ridership projections, a focus of this L.A. Weekly article) at last week’s Metro Programming Committee meeting, yesterday’s LAX approval went very smoothly. The Metro board approved a preferred alternative for connecting rail to LAX. It’s a new rail station, located at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard, where LAX-bound riders can board an Automated-People-Mover (APM). Depending on operations decisions, still to be determined, the new station will serve the existing Metro Green Line, Metro Crenshaw Line (under construction) and possibly even Expo Line trains via Crenshaw. (Editor’s note: this would be way in the future – there are no current plans to connect Expo and Crenshaw tracks.) Both Mayor Garcetti and Bonin stated that they expect the 96th Street Station to be more than just a transfer point, but indeed a full-featured world-class gateway to Los Angeles.

With the LAX connection conceptually decided, there’s still lots of environmental studies, design and operation decisions, finalization of features that will be designed/built by LAX itself, and about a decade of construction before the riders can experience it.  Read more…

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Streetsblog Talks Open Streets Expansion On KPCC Radio Today

Under Metro's plan, CicLAvia open streets festivals will take place all over Los Angeles County. photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Under a Metro proposal expected to be approved later this month, CicLAvia open streets festivals will take place all over Los Angeles County. photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton appeared on KPCC Radio’s Take Two morning news show this morning. Audio is available on-line.

Streetsblog broke the open streets expansion story last week.

Metro is on target to approve a dozen upcoming CicLAvia-type open streets events throughout L.A. County, including East L.A., Long Beach, San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, and multiple events in the San Gabriel Valley.

Metro’s board still needs to approve the plans. The proposal will be heard at Metro’s Planning and Programming Committee on June 18th and then at the full Metro Board meeting on June 26th. Find the Metro meeting agendas and supporting materials here.

The next CicLAvia event will be Sunday October 5th, 2014. The route will be the original central “Heart of L.A.” version, and will include a new spur through Boyle Heights into unincorporated East Los Angeles.

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Open Streets Slated for SFV, SGV, Pasadena, LB, Santa Monica, and More

Under Metro's plan, CicLAvia open streets festivals will take place all over Los Angeles County. photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Under Metro’s proposal, 12 different CicLAvia open streets festivals will take place in various cities throughout Los Angeles County. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

It is not fully approved or completely finalized, but a document has circulated that shows Metro’s staff recommendations for open streets events for FY2015-16. Open streets events, or ciclovías, are car-free festivals primarily for bicycling and walking, more or less the same as Los Angeles’ popular CicLAvia.

So far in L.A. County, cities, primarily the city of Los Angeles, have partnered with the CicLAvia nonprofit organization to host these events. The new Metro list shows the popular event spreading out to new cities and new neighborhoods, and new cities working with new organizational partners.

Metro has become a major sponsor for open streets events, allocating $2 million in event funding for each of the next two fiscal years, July 1st through June 30th. The agency is allocating the funding to cities that apply. Metro received about two dozen applications, ranked them, and recommended funding twelve upcoming events.

Nearly all the planned events connect with Metro’s rail system. Two open streets events are projected to coincide with the grand openings for Metro’s Gold and Expo rail line extensions under construction.

Metro’s guidelines, as stated in the document, prioritize “funding one event per city before funding multiple events.” Proportionally, this puts larger cities–Los Angeles and Long Beach–at somewhat of a competitive disadvantage.

The city of Long Beach applied to host three “Beach Streets” events, but only received funding for one, to take place in northwest Long Beach.

The city of Los Angeles applied for funding for both San Fernando Valley and South L.A. events, but only received funding for SFV. The city of Los Angeles also found a way to squeeze in a third CicLAvia event. L.A.’s “Heart of Los Angeles” route centered on downtown L.A. is being extended east into unincorporated East L.A., so it is hosted by the County of Los Angeles, despite the event being mostly within L.A. city limits.

In future calls, perhaps there could be prioritization of limited funding using some sort of per capita criteria.

Map of upcoming FY 2015 and 2016 Los Angeles County open streets event. From Metro document

Map of upcoming FY 2015 and 2016 Los Angeles County open streets event. From Metro document

The upcoming open streets events list was made public on the Metro website and circulated by @Calwatch via Twitter. The “open streets recommendations” document is posted hereUpdate: Per Metro, the document was not officially made public yet, and the full report, which may differ from what was posted, will be released in early June. While the document includes a map (above) it is not easy to tell exactly what streets are included in each event. 

The document represents the Metro staff recommendations. The funding list will still need to be approved by the Metro Planning and Programming Committee, then the full Metro Board. These approvals are expected in June 2014. Though there are maps and dates specified, open streets events go through a lot of changes, so consider these tentative.

Below is the full list of upcoming open streets events slated for approval, listed in date order.  Read more…

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CicLAvia Highlights Need for Better Bike Infrastructure for Cycling to Grow as a Transportation Option

Rides at CicLAvia along Wilshire Blvd. (from last year. I took zero pictures this year). Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Riders at CicLAvia (2013) along Wilshire Blvd. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

“Stay to the right!” rang out over the megaphone from a passing police car. “That means you, young lady!”

As CicLAvia came to a close and streets were being re-opened to cars, well-meaning police officers did their best to warn folks on bikes that their two-wheeled utopia was subsisting on borrowed time.

And, while I was flattered that they thought I was young, I was rather flummoxed at the notion that they would have directed me to move from an empty eastbound lane of Wilshire to the right side of the dozen or so cars queuing up to turn right onto Hoover.

Who told them it was a good idea to run cyclists in front of cars turning right? I wondered.

This moment — the instant that the streets re-open to motorized traffic — is both the most informative part of CicLAvia and the most depressing.

It’s informative in that you immediately get a sense of how well-equipped your average person is to navigate traffic on a bike and your average police officer to help them do so. And, it’s depressing because the answer to both of those questions is “not very.”

At Hoover, the officers’ admonitions directing bikes heading east along Wilshire to stay to the far right were entirely counterproductive (and dangerous). Those that took those directions as gospel headed straight for the gutter, hugging the curb as closely as possible. But, because there was no room to ride in the car-occupied lane, many soon moved up onto the narrow sidewalk, where they had to walk their bikes.

All those now-pedestrians crossed through the intersection on foot, creating a tremendous bottleneck along Wilshire. Meanwhile, police continued to direct people to ride to the right of the growing line of cars waiting to turn right, despite the fact that the eastbound lanes remained almost entirely car-free.

Along other sections of Wilshire that had been re-opened to cars, some people chose to ride on the sidewalks, wanting no part of car traffic. Others continued to brave it out in the gutters, slowly battling and weaving their way up hills, sometimes completely oblivious to — or utterly panicked by — the line of cars forming behind them. Still others, apparently lost in the bike-fest bubble, merrily blew through red lights with their children in tow.

This is madness, I thought.

Not necessarily because all these inexperienced people were out on the streets — although that can be problematic, too — but because they were there and they were not protected by better infrastructure.

Earlier in the day, I had been talking with cycling advocate friends about the next steps forward from CicLAvia. Read more…

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CicLAvia IX, Iconic Wilshire Corridor Open Thread

"Bikes May Use Full Lane, Damn Right." Photo and Caption: Joe Linton

“Bikes May Use Full Lane, Damn Right.” Photo and Caption: Joe Linton

CicLAvia IX: Iconic Wilshire Corridor has come and gone. While my Facebook feed is full of happy adults and smiling children, I know that my social media streams aren’t the best way to gauge how well an event was received.

I also know we didn’t make it to LaBrea…so that leaves about 80% of the map untouched by my son’s mini-Linus.

So what say you Streetsbloggers? How did yesterday’s CicLAvia stack up to yesteryear’s?

As always, I’ll post my comments a little later today.

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Twelve Tips For This Sunday’s Iconic Wilshire Boulevard CicLAvia

CicLAvia opens Wilshire Boulevard this Sunday. 9am-4pm, Fairfax to Grand. Photo: Chris via Flickr

CicLAvia opens Wilshire Boulevard this Sunday. 9am-4pm, Fairfax to Grand. Photo: Chris via Flickr

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

Read more…

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Expand Your Streets Knowledge at Upcoming Conferences

Move LA imagines the next transportation funding measure - details below

Move LA imagines the next transportation funding measure – details below

Over the next couple months, there are number of upcoming local conferences that L.A. Streetsblog readers might be interested in:

UCLA Lewis Center’s Digital Cities Smarter Transportation
Thursday, March 20th, 2014, 8 am – 7:30 pm
Japan American National Museum, DTLA
This conference explores the way mobile technology is changing transit, parking, food, and more – and the role of public and private institutions in managing these technologies.
Registration $179Streetsblog special: limited quantity of $129 tickets available – use discount code “sbla

Move L.A.’s Imagining Measure R2 … and Thriving L.A. County Communities
Friday, March 28th, 2014, 8:30 am – 4 pm
Cathedral Center, DTLA
This conference explores how Southern California communities can come together around investing in a robust transit system.
Registration $25-$75; scholarships available

Open Streets Project’s (with CicLAvia) Open Streets National Summit
Friday, April 4th – Sunday, April 6th, 2014
Line Hotel, Koreatown, L.A.
Learn the ins and outs of hosting open streets ciclovía events – from marketing to outreach to fundraising to route selection. Includes observation of and participation in the April 6th Iconic Wilshire Blvd CicLAvia festival.
Registration $395 (earlybird rate good until midnight tonight)

Urban Land Institute’s 14th Annual Urban Marketplace 
Wednesday April 23rd, 2014, 7:30 am – 12 pm
Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, DTLA
This conference and expo are designed to explore development strategies for L.A.’s lower income and higher poverty neighborhoods. Topics will include infill development, L.A. River revitalization, and development around USC and UCLA. More information as Urban Marketplace approaches. (L.A. Streetsblog is a media partner.)
Registration $70-$120

And, a couple of conferences hosted a bit farther away:

If you’re hosting a similar event, let us know – and consider promoting your event via an advertisement at L.A. Streetsblog.