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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…

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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.

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This Week’s L.A. Transportation Committee: Vision Zero, Parking, CicLAvia

Los Angeles leads big cities in crash deaths. Image via L.A. City Vision Zero report [PDF]

Los Angeles leads big U.S. cities in crash deaths. Image via L.A. City Vision Zero report [PDF]

Yesterday’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee touched on a number of items related to Los Angeles livability. Below is a brief recap of highlights. All these committee actions still need to be approved by the full city council before going into effect.

Vision Zero and Pedestrian Enforcement – Council File 15-0546

This is the second committee hearing (June coverage here) for the laudable Bonin-Huizar motion that seeks to curb LAPD’s “fish-in-a-barrel” ticketing of pedestrians who violate antiquated state crosswalk laws.

Given that Mayor Eric Garcetti’s recent Vision Zero directive has brought departments together to focus on reducing collision deaths, committee time for this item was dedicated to a Vision Zero presentation by L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds.

Reynolds’ presentation was compelling, drawing from the city’s extensive Vision Zero report [PDF]. City departments are engaging a consultant to do a “detail dive into crash data.” The internal city Vision Zero Task Force will meet for the first time on Thursday, September 24. Also on Thursday, the city will host a public event featuring Reynolds and Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the national Vision Zero Network. Event details here.

The pedestrian enforcement aspect of the motion will be heard at a subsequent committee meeting.

Expansion of Express ParkCouncil File 13-0586

The committee approved extending Xerox’s contract to administer the city’s demand-based parking program, L.A. Express Park. Express Park will continue in downtown Los Angeles. It will also expand to Westwood (in the “next two months”) and to Hollywood (in about three years.)  Read more…

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CicLAvia Culver City Venice Open Thread

CicLAvia – Culver City meets Venice was another massive CicLAvia. Despite the usual fears from some businesses, the event was attended by huge numbers of cyclists, plus plenty of people on foot, skates, blades, skateboards, and more.

What was your favorite part of Southern California’s 14th CicLAvia? Shark and banana bikes? Little girls riding pink training-wheeled bikes? Impromptu front yard parties? Auto dealerships handing out fruit and water? Bike-share demos from coming-soon Metro and Santa Monica systems? Metro Board of Directors Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and fellow boardmember L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin taking bike-share demo bikes for a spin? Added: Supervisor Hilda Solis too! L.A. Great Streets pop-up parklet announcing protected bike lanes coming to Venice Boulevard?!? Hard-shell tacos? Live music? Farmers Market? LADWP tap water refill stations? Spotting something you never noticed before? Beautiful Angelenos of every shape, size, and age smiling in the streets together?

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CicLAvia increases the capacity of Venice Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A. except where specified.

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Tito’s Tacos Comes Around, Welcomes Culver City CicLAvia Participants

Screenshot of Tito's Tacos Facebook post today.

Screenshot of Tito’s Tacos Facebook post today.

Today, Tito’s Tacos posted on Twitter and Facebook that they will be open during this Sunday’s CicLAvia – Culver City meets Venice. Tito’s emphasized that many of their employees take public transit and ride bikes to work every day. CicLAvia tweeted that they’ll be helping Tito’s out with bike and car parking that day.

This put to bed a surprisingly escalating controversy. It is perhaps not much as far as controversies go, but Tito’s had kicked a hornets’ nest by publishing a strongly-worded anti-CicLAvia piece at Culver City news outlet The Front Page. Tito’s owner Lynne Davidson stated, in part:

… immediately cancel the CicLAvia event or, at a bare minimum, that the streets surrounding Tito’s Tacos [not be] closed to through-traffic on Aug. 9, which traditionally is one the biggest days of the year for us.

If this ill-conceived event happens, Tito’s Tacos plans to file a claim under the Government Code against the City of Culver City and CicLAvia to recoup all damages the event causes to Tito’s Tacos.

The Front Page also published a response quoting extensively from City Councilman Jim Clarke in defense of CicLAvia. The discussion quickly degenerated into a volley of comments like, “Their tacos suck anyway.”

I first saw the controversy mentioned at Biking in L.A. The Militant Angeleno playfully referenced an earlier incident where a driver had crashed into Tito’s, temporarily shutting it down, “Rest assured that unlike your car-oriented customers, we won’t be crashing into your wall.”

Further articles ran in LAist and the L.A. Weekly. The controversy even reached national livability circles in the form of an article published this afternoon at The Atlantic‘s CityLab declaring Tito’s to be “on the wrong side of history.”

As one of the people who went door-to-door notifying businesses about CicLAvia from 2010 through 2012, I have to say that Tito’s response is just not that out of the ordinary. Read more…

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Activist Profile: Tafarai Bayne

Tafarai Bayne, then with T.R.U.S.T. South L.A. takes in a mural along the RideSouthLA route before a ride in 2012. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

South L.A. community organizer and streets advocate extraordinaire Tafarai Bayne was often seen exploring the vast landscape of Los Angeles on “The Flash,” his recently retired bicycle.

Despite The Flash’s retirement, Bayne’s passion for the cycling community remains a prevalent aspect in his work.

On December 7th, 2014, Bayne was joined by tens of thousands of Angelenos as CicLAvia cycled through South L.A. neighborhoods, from Leimert Park to Central Avenue via Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard.

CicLAvia’s South L.A. route was a monumental event for multiple reasons: not only was it the first CicLAvia held through and for South L.A. communities, it was also the first route that Bayne had a strong hand in planning and executing after helping plan the event in previous years.

“The route in December was the culmination of years of work that I and some good friends/allies started in 2010 after I got the chance to attend the first CicLAvia,” wrote Bayne.

In association with TRUST South L.A., Bayne approached Joe Linton, then an organizer for CicLAvia (and currently the editor of Streetsblog Los Angeles). Despite Linton’s warnings of a lengthy planning process (written about by Streetsblog L.A.’s Sahra Sulaiman here) — one that ultimately lasted about four years — Bayne was determined to bring the cycling event to his community.

His interest in elevating communities like South L.A. had begun at an early age.

Born in Watts, Bayne was raised in the city’s Crenshaw District. As a student at Downtown Business Magnet, he often found himself navigating Los Angeles on city buses to get to classes held in downtown spaces. He credits the combination of his upbringing and the commutes that allowed him to experience the ambiance of multiple neighborhoods with giving him a lens to think critically about his city and the number of ways in which communities like South L.A. were often overlooked.

It was teacher-turned-UTLA secretary, Daniel Barnhart, that helped him think about how to channel his passion for social justice and the advancement of his community into advocacy.

“I was introduced by [Barnhart] to the idea of advocacy and community organizing,” said Bayne. “He’s an organizer for the teachers’ union now, but at the time he was going to the [1999 World Trade Organization] protests in Seattle. He’d come back and show us his gas masks and talk [to us] about challenging what people were perceiving as unjust, unfair laws. People weren’t getting a say on how things were being decided or on the impacts they were feeling. This really got me thinking about engaging in Los Angeles.”

Now attuned to the significance of public policy, Bayne didn’t wait long to test out what he’d learned. After graduating high school, he volunteered at the “Convergence Center” at the 2000 Democratic National Convention — the gathering site for protesters and community organizers from around the country. He then went on to intern with Public Allies. It was through this internship that Bayne was placed at Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), where he was brought on board, first, as an intern and then as full-time staff. Bayne later found himself returning to Public Allies and, finally, spending seven years working at TRUST South L.A., an organization that addresses affordable housing (and, more recently, mobility) challenges in South L.A., and shifting his attention toward urban planning. Read more…

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Long Beach’s First Ever Beach Streets Ciclovía – Open Thread

Beach Streets opens the streets in Long Beach.  Photos courtesy of Brian Addison

Beach Streets opens the streets in Long Beach. Photos courtesy of Brian Addison

How was your Beach Streets? Long Beach, the aspirational most bike-friendly city in America and demonstrably the most bike-friendly city in L.A. County, has joined the ranks of cities hosting open streets festivals or ciclovías. Long Beach’s first ever Beach Streets was full of camaraderie, chillness, and community.

For a photo essay, see our sister site LongBeachIze. Lots more photos at The Source. For a look at the Long Beach bike-share system demo, see SerenaGrace Tumblr.

How was it for you, SBLA readers? Are open streets festivals different in cities that embrace two-wheeled transportation? Was Long Beach’s ciclovía markedly different than open streets festivals produced by the non-profit CicLAvia? Has Metro’s countywide open streets initiative spread these events to new places and exposed new people to the awesomenesses that are ciclovías? Comment below!

Beach Streets in uptown Long Beach

Beach Streets in uptown Long Beach

 

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10 Beach Streets Tips for Those Experiencing Open Streets for the First Time Tomorrow

BikeSharePink

I still remember the feeling in the air right before the 10/10/10 CicLAvia: a mix of anticipation, nervous energy and curiosity. Twelve CicLAvia’s later, including CicLAvia XIII in Pasadena last week, the event brings the same excitement and wonder it ever does. But, as an experienced Open Streets participant, humor me while I share some of my views on the best ways to enjoy Beach Streets. Long Beach’s very first Beach Streets takes place tomorrow – Saturday June 6 from .

1. First off, if you’ve never been to an Open Streets event, take a couple of minutes to check out this video to get pumped up. This video is nearly a decade old, but captures the energy of the Bogota ciclovia so well that it’s still used by advocates trying to convince their own city to embrace open streets.

Want to see more, check out some of our videos from the first CicLAvias in Los Angeles.

2. Pack for twice as long as you expect to be there. You’ll be surprised by how much there is to do and how addictive it is to just be out there. So pack your suntan lotion, pack your water, bring some snacks…

3.  …AND plan to spend some money. One of the easiest stories for a reporter looking to cast shade on an Open Streets is to find some businesses that “lost a day of revenue” because “people couldn’t get to the store.” Provide your own counter-narrative by visiting some local shops and eateries and spend some cash.

4. Figure out how you’re going to get to the event ahead of time. Long Beach Transit is providing free shuttle service (look for the buses with a “Charter” sign) and there will be a temporary bike lane on Wardlow Street from the Blue Line Station to the west of the event. Last but not least, LBCycology has planned a feeder bike ride. Santa Monica Spoke too.

5. But still bring a map. Ok, I know you’re going to say that the route is basically a straight line. But you never know how knowing where the street closures are is going to impact your trip to and from and through the event. Also, Open Streets is about meeting new people, and you also never know when having a map will help you make a new friend. Print a map, here.

6. Leave your racing shoes/wheels at home. There are few things that ruin an Open Streets event more than people who see the lack of cars and decide to act like entitled drivers anyway. Beach Streets is not about setting land-speed records. Relax. You’ll appreciate it. So will everyone around you. While you’re at it, leave the lycra at home too.

7. Bring a friend…especially if you’re planning to bike the event. Bring families, kids, husbands, domestic partners, nieces, etc. Your non-cyclist friends probably think that biking in the city is too hard, show them how easy it can beTell 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.

8. Don’t plan ahead. At least don’t plan too much. Be spontaneous. 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. If you really want to plan your day around a specific event or have a fun place for a meetup, Beach Streets’ website has guides to both events and entertainment.

9. Stop and take pictures. While the city is planning to hold these events again, there isn’t a set timeline. You never know how long it will be before you get a chance to fill up your Livable Streets Photo Album. You also never know when your favorite website for news and views on urban design and clean transportation options might hold a photo contest.

10. Be nice. I hope this is self-explanatory.

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CicLAvia XIII: Pasadena Open Streets Open Thread

Yesterday was Pasadena's first CicLAvia. How did it go for you? Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday was Pasadena’s first CicLAvia. How did it go for you? Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia touched down in the City of Pasadena for the first time yesterday. The route, centered on Colorado Boulevard, showcased the city’s great walkable historic core, preserved because the City of Pasadena stopped the destructive and costly practice of street widening and reformed parking, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Yesterday, Pasadena saw plenty of smiles, music, dogs, families, long lines at eateries, crowded Gold Line cars, and – yes – tens of thousands of bikes.

Readers – what did you think? Did you walk, skate, or bike? At 3.5 miles it was the shortest CicLAvia yet. Was the distance too long, too short, or just right? Did you take a feeder ride? Or the Metro Gold Line?

Ciclovía afficionados don’t even need to wait a week for L.A. County’s next open streets events. Long Beach is hosting its inaugural Beach Streets event this Saturday June 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be the first local ciclovía not run by the organization CicLAvia. Explore L.A. County’s leading bike-friendly city and keep cool as the summer heats up. Who’s heading for Long Beach?

CicLAvia Pasadena cruises past the landmark Castle Green

CicLAvia Pasadena cruises past the landmark Castle Green

More CicLAvia Pasadena photos at The Source, Boy on a Bike, and Randomness from Unbored Hands.

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CicLAvia XII Open Thread: Viva the Valley!

CicLAvia touched down in the San Fernando Valley for the first time ever yesterday. Cyclists, skaters, and pedestrians share Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia touched down in the San Fernando Valley for the first time ever yesterday. Cyclists, skaters, and pedestrians share Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

With a winning formula that attracts tens of thousands of participants, spurred on by funding from Metro, Southern California open streets programs are not just for central and Downtown L.A. any more. Coming soon, inaugural ciclovías will take Long Beach and Pasadena. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Yesterday, CicLAvia opened Lankershim and Ventura Boulevards for nearly six miles of car-free San Fernando Valley. Studio City and North Hollywood were bikes on bikes on bikes, with skates, scooters, wheelchairs, and walking shoes all tossed in for good measure.

The weather was cool. The streets, hubs, restaurants, and trains were crowded. The smiles were plentiful.

How was your CicLAvia – The Valley? Was this, the 12th CicLAvia, different than the rest, or just the same old CicLAvia magical awesomeness? How was your experience getting there, moving through, and getting home? What did your kids or your parents enjoy most? Did you see new and intriguing features: the pop-up protected bike lane? NoHo’s new plaza? another face of the Los Angeles River? a glimpse into the future of the San Fernando Valley?

After the jump, a few photos. Followed by your comments.  Read more…