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Posts from the "CicLAvia" Category

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CicLAvia No. 10: Huge, Wonderful, Happy, But No Longer Newsworthy?

Los Angeles Public Library book bike at yesterday's CicLAvia. Image via Facebook.

Los Angeles Public Library book bike at yesterday’s CicLAvia. Image via Facebook

If a CicLAvia opens the city, and almost no media coverage ensues, does anybody hear?

My answer is a resounding yes.

Even if CicLAvia is now becoming almost taken for granted by the mainstream, it still changes lives, activates places, and brings Angelenos together.

L.A.’s 10th CicLAvia came and went yesterday. Tens of thousands of people showed up. Every shady spot on the route was mobbed. As were restaurants, parks, and neverias. The mainstream media ran some of advance warning coverage, still mostly along the lines of this L.A. Times warning: “CicLaVia [sic] [...] means closed streets  from Echo Park to East Los Angeles.”  The only mainstream coverage I could find was this worthwhile 7-image CicLAvia 2014 [sic] photo essay in the L.A. Times.

Luckily those standard news sources are not all there is these days. There’s plenty of #CicLAvia social media on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.

And even if CicLAvia somehow remained secret to the outside world, it still lives on in the smiling recollections of those of us lucky enough to experience one of the best days Los Angeles has to offer.

How was your CicLAvia Day yesterday? Let us know in the comments below.

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The Ultimate First Street Guide to CicLAvia: Where to Eat and Who to Meet

Lupita Barajas sits in front of her restaurant, Yeya's (across the street from Mariachi Plaza), with her grandson, Julian. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Lupita Barajas sits in front of her restaurant, Yeya’s (across the street from Mariachi Plaza), with her grandson, Julian. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

CicLAvia! Bicycles! Hipster Invaders! Gentrification!

Made you look!

Probably provoked some strong emotions, too, given the way recent headlines (see here, here, here) in asking whether activities assumed to be the purview of “hipsters” could be compatible with lower-income communities, have inadvertently re-ified the “us vs. them” framing that guides too much of the conversation on gentrification.*

Very little productive dialogue tends to come of that approach, regardless of how well-intended the question is. For one, it is incredibly effective at enticing all the angry, underwear-clad racists, classists, and all-around terrible people with Internet access out of their caves. But even among those who seek a more elevated debate, that framing almost guarantees that the highly complex issues surrounding community transformations will devolve into unpleasant wranglings over who has the right to make claims on a place based on creative interpretations of history and sweeping generalizations about “culture.”

Behold, the most tone-deaf gentri-flyer in the history of man. (Photo source unknown)

Behold, the most tone-deaf gentri-flyer in the history of man. (Photo source unknown)

That is not to say that bike lanes, bicyclists, CicLAvia, or even “hipsters” aren’t touchstones in gentrification debates. The gentri-flyer heard ’round the world (at right) made clear that they certainly are.

But, as I tried to illustrate in the stories penned on the storm the flyer generated (here, here), it’s not those things, per se, that provoke such a strong reaction. It’s the processes and power structures they represent.

In other words, people are often looking at current efforts to engage their communities in the context of the long history of discrimination, deliberate disinvestment, displacement, and exclusion from the planning processes those communities have endured and asking where they fit.

From that perspective, it becomes easier to see how residents with a lengthy list of unaddressed infrastructure and other needs might wonder exactly who lower-priority concerns like bike lanes (or an event like CicLAvia, staged in their community by non-residents) were intended to benefit. Particularly since investment often seems to not be directed at a marginalized area until after turnover is already underway and developers appear prepared to “ride the wave of increased gentrification”** by snapping up homes, apartment buildings, and retail sites.

Students from around the area speak about how memories and family define what home on the Eastside means to them at an Activarte workshop led by artist Omar Ramirez. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Students from around the area speak about how memories, family, relationships, and struggle define what home on the East Side means to them at a recent Activarte: Detouring Displacement workshop led by artist Omar Ramirez. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Of course, none of this means that people don’t want to see investments, improvements, events, or even “outsiders” in their communities. On the contrary — a number of the small business owners I’ve spoken with feel that more investment in the area and greater exposure to a wider customer base are necessary for them to survive and flourish.

They would just prefer that when that happens, investments will be directed at existing businesses and local entrepreneurs so they can grow and adapt to a changing landscape, the community will be treated as a partner in planning, development will be respectful of the character, history, and culture of the area, improvements will address the needs and aspirations of the long-time residents — especially those on the margins, and the existing residents’ ability to remain in their homes will be safeguarded so they can reap the benefits of any growth or change that results from that process.

Activarte participants discuss what "home" means to them and prepare to make signs bearing their ideas. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Activarte participants discuss what “home” means to them and prepare to make signs to communicate their ideas. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

So, some of the community’s stakeholders are hoping to help visitors and city officials to see the value of that approach by inviting participants to explore the length of 1st St. during this weekend’s CicLAvia, get acquainted with the small businesses, and learn about how culture, history, food, and family play into their vision for the future of their community.

They’re going to make it super-easy for everyone to do so, too.

Most of the businesses along 1st are family-run. Yeya's has been there four years, although owner Lupita Barajas worked in restaurants along the street for 15 years prior to starting her own business. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Most of the businesses along 1st are family-run. Yeya’s has been there four years, although owner Lupita Barajas (holding the baby) worked in restaurants along the street for 15 years prior to opening her own. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Thanks to the work of Aldo Medina of the East L.A. Community Corporation, who is working to organize the businesses and offer them technical assistance, Chris Pina who nurtures the growth of small businesses via Business Source, and Juan Romero, the owner of cafe Primera Taza, 1st st. will be hosting the equivalent of one very long block party. There will be food, music, art, live painting, food, outdoor tables and chairs, awesome people, and food.

Did I mention food? Read more…

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Heads Up: No Added Bicycle Capacity on Metrolink For Sunday’s CicLAvia

Metrolink has these great trains to carry lots of bikes... But don't look for them this Sunday. Image via The Source

Metrolink has these great trains to carry lots of bikes… Just don’t look for them this Sunday. Image via The Source

(Editor’s Note: Sorry to run this disappointing news announced by Metrolink, when we’re otherwise really excited about CicLAvia this Sunday. Don’t forget, though, bicycles are not required equipment. There are lots of great CicLAvia attractions located within easy walking distance from Union Station! Including a pedestrian zone in the Broadway Historic Theater area. Also, don’t forget that there are plenty of Metro rail and bus connections to the route – see this article at The Source for details. What’s the solution, readers? Should cyclists press Metrolink for better service? Should Metro press Metrolink? Can we get bike share? Host more CicLAvias? Should far-flung CicLAvia participants just drive? Let us know in the comments below.) 

Anyone who thought they will be able to take their bicycle to CicLAvia with them on Metrolink’s trains this upcoming Sunday will likely be in for an unwelcome surprise.

Metrolink has decided that they will no longer be adding bicycle cars to their trains, nor will they be adding any extra trains to their pared-down Sunday schedules despite the common knowledge that CicLAvia is a very popular event, with lots of cyclists riding Metrolink trains to attend:

The reason given is that it takes 6 weeks for trains to be reconfigured to remove the bike cars and return the sets (or “consists” in American Railroad-ese) to their normal state: Read more…

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Tips for Families and for Keeping Cool At CicLAvia #StreetsR4Families

Kids having fun in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard at the April 2014 CicLAvia. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Kids having fun in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard at the April 2014 CicLAvia. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia has always been an all-ages event. It’s one of those rare festivals that families can enjoy together. There are lots of young kids riding bicycles much further than we parents expect. Take away the cars, and streets become safe, more like parks than anything else.

And, CicLAvia is back from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday, October 5, with a 10-mile “Heart of Los Angeles” route that extends from East L.A. through Boyle Heights and Downtown L.A. to Echo Park. The weather forecast shows triple digits on Saturday, then down to the low 90s on CicLAvia Day.

Below is a list of recommendations for families on how to enjoy CicLAvia, then an overlapping list for everyone with suggestions for keeping cool on a hot CicLAvia day. All locations are listed from East to West.

TIPS FOR FAMILIES:

1. Just Enjoy Walking and Bicycling on Safe Streets: Most of this article points out specific sites that your family might want to get to. I recommend not trying to be too ambitious about getting to most or any of these. The main attraction is moving through Los Angeles’ streets. Your kids don’t get to ride their bike or walk in the middle of the street every day. They probably don’t get to see so many people or so many big buildings all the time. Be spontaneous. Don’t try to get to everything.

Daughter and dad dressed up at April's CicLAvia

Daughter and dad dressed up at April’s CicLAvia

2. Dress Up: It’s certainly not necessary, but CicLAvia is a bit more fun with a cape, sequins, tutus, etc. With Halloween right around the corner, it’s a fun time for costumes. It’s probably too hot for masks, though. Hint: it’s a good way to make your kids easier to spot in the crowds, too.

3. Take Metro: It’s not always easy to take kids on the bus or train every day, so CicLAvia presents a great opportunity to ride transit with your kids. The route is very very easy to access via the Metro Gold, Red and Purple Lines. It’s a couple blocks from the Blue and Expo Lines, and Union Station with connections to Metrolink (limited bike capacity) and Amtrak. You can take bikes on all of these trains, but go early, because lots of folks take their bikes that day, so you may have to wait for another if your train is full. And, if you’re walking or skating, the trains are easy – or take a Metro bus. (Each Metro buses do hold two bikes – but these fill up into and out of CicLAvia, so I hesitate to recommend bike-bus that day.)

4. Bring bike locks and use them. It’s not rampant, but some bike theft occurs at CicLAvia. There are lots of inexperienced cyclists who neglect to lock up, or lock up incorrectly. If you stop to play, eat, buy, etc., even for just a couple minutes, please take time to lock your bikes securely.

5. Dismount and walk down hills. The route is generally flat, but there are a couple minor hills. Kids may want to bomb down, but, unless they’re experienced riders, this is where falls and injuries can occur.  Read more…

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25 Things to See at This Sunday’s “Heart of Los Angeles” CicLAvia

This Sunday’s CicLAvia route includes some of the same neighborhoods as past events in central Los Angeles, but it’s actually a very different route. Only a wiggle through Boyle Heights and the downtown Arts District remain from central CicLAvia route that debuted in 2010. There are lots of great sights to see along this new trajectory. Below is a non-exhaustive guide to some worthwhile stuff to check out. At hubs, you can get a free printed neighborhood guide which includes many of the sites I’ve highlighted, and other great stuff.

SBLA will also be publishing a family guide to CicLAvia this week (because #StreetsR4Families), which will include some tips for everyone on how to keep cool. Most of these 12 tips for last April’s event remain good advice for this weekend.

Heart of Los Angeles CicLAvia route for Sunday October 5. Image: CicLAvia

Heart of Los Angeles CicLAvia route for Sunday October 5. Image from CicLAvia

For ease of use, I’ve organized this guide into three sections: East, North-South, and West. Everything is listed east to west.

EAST: East L.A., Boyle Heights, Arts District, Little Tokyo

The lake at East L.A. Civic Center Park. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The lake at East L.A. Civic Center Park. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

1. East L.A. Civic Center [4837 E 3rd Street map]

The county’s Civic Center anchors the east end of the route. It includes a very pleasant park (officially part of Belvedere Regional Park), with large lawn areas, a small tot lot, and a very pleasant lake. If you get here and you’re tired of walking, bicycling, skating, etc. it’s very easy to board the Metro Gold Line here, which takes you back into downtown L.A., or all the way to Pasadena.

East L.A.'s historic Maravilla Handball Court

East L.A.’s historic Maravilla Handball Court

2. Maravilla Handball Court [501 Mednik Avenue map]

Just north of the CicLAvia route, there is what may be the most historic handball court in the known universe. There’s not a lot to see from the street today, but it’s nonetheless an important site. Built in 1923, and facing a potential development threat in 2012, the Maravilla handball court was declared a historic resource by the state of California. If you visit, and it’s open, please make a donation toward site preservation. For stories about the site, visit the Maravilla Historical Society website or watch this short video.

Former Self Help Graphics building mosaics

Former Self Help Graphics building mosaics

3. Self Help Graphics building [3800 E Cesar Chavez Avenue map]

Well, sadly, Self Help Graphics had to move on to other quarters, but their old site remains an icon. Read more…

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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.