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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…

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CicLAvia – The Valley: Tips For Fun, Families, Getting There, and More

CicLAvia will wow the San Fernando this sunday. Pictured: Spring 2014 CicLAvia on Wilshire. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia will wow the San Fernando this Sunday. Pictured: Spring 2014 CicLAvia on Wilshire. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia – The Valley takes place this Sunday, March 22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CicLAvia is L.A.’s open streets celebration – a free, fun, family-friendly festival – where streets are closed to cars to allow people on foot, skates, and bikes to take over.

There are already a handful of great guides available online. They’re all worthwhile, and there’s plenty of overlap.

GENERAL TIPS

As always, do not bring lunch. Bring money and buy lunch. Maybe breakfast, elevenses, and dinner, too. The route includes lots of great eats, from artisan cheese, sushi, Middle Eastern cuisine, delis, Dupar’s, to more than a dozen pizza places. Mom-and-pop proprietors along CicLAvia routes tend to be worried about their bottom line, and many of them think that car parking spaces pretty much equate with customers. Show these Valley businesses that walking and bicycling are great for business.

That tip is one of twelve CicLAvia tips that SBLA recommended last year, most of which are still applicable. Especially if you haven’t been to a CicLAvia event before, read these tips to get a sense for what to expect.

Keep cool under the shady trees at Weddington Park South, next to the Universal City CicLAvia hub.

Keep cool under the shady trees at Weddington Park – South, next to the Universal City CicLAvia hub.

KEEPING COOL

It looks like another hot day, with the forecast calling for full sun and 85 degrees. Here are a few tips for keeping cool:

  • Go early (especially useful if you’re taking transit), then spend the midday heat inside a restaurant.
  • If it gets really hot, take a break in the shade at a nearby park.
    Weddington Park – South (at Valleyheart and Lankershim, Google map) is right next to CicLAvia’s Universal City Hub, plenty of grass and mature tree cover.
    – Two blocks west of the NoHo hub is North Hollywood Park (11430 Chandler Boulevard, 91601, Google map). Also plenty of shade.

TIPS FOR FAMILIES

CicLAvia is a great place for families. There are lots of kids on training-wheeled bikes, scooters, skates, skateboards, and on foot, as well as in bike trailers, cargo bikes, and all kinds of bike seats. It is a great and safe environment for kids on bikes – and also for cycling parents to try out and get more accustomed to our kid-carrying accoutrements.  Read more…

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Want a Guided Tour of the Next CicLAvia? There’s an App for That

“I grew up in the Valley and walked Ventura Boulevard and Lankershim countless times as a kid and as an adult,” begins Aaron Paley as he introduces the “soundscape” that has been produced for CicLAvia – The Valley, coming to a street near you on March 22. For more information on CicLAvia, or the event on the 22nd, click here.

CicLAvia, in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, commissioned two Dutch artists, Rob van Rijswijk and Jeroen Strijbos, to create an interactive soundscape composition that brings together the past and present of the San Fernando Valley in one unique app. Instructions on how to use the app can be found in the video, above.

Basically, as people walk the CicLAvia route, the app on their phone will broadcast something new, either a speech, or some music, or a poem that reflects the portion of the route they are walking. Sorry, those who are biking the route, the app isn’t timed correctly for faster moving participants. However, if you miss CicLAvia or have two-wheeled plans for the day; CicLAvia staff confirms the app will continue to work “for years to come.” You can give yourself a tour anytime.

“That simple act of walking down the street is utterly transformed once you download Walk with Me and set off with earbuds in place.  There’s this wonderful sense that you should just go a bit further to see what other sonic adventures are in store for you,” Paley continues. Read more…

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CicLAvia Open Thread: It Was a Great Day for South L.A.

Members of the L.A. Real Rydaz and World Riders post up on MLK Blvd. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Members of the L.A. Real Rydaz and World Riders post up on MLK Blvd. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

“I am such a terrible reporter,” I texted my boss as I left Leimert Park around 4 p.m. yesterday. “All I did was talk to everyone I’ve ever met in the last three years…”

It was true. Instead of just taking in the event or snapping photos of happy participants, I went from pit stop to pit stop, seeking out the folks who were working to make sure L.A.’s re-introduction to South L.A. was a fantastically positive one.

If they weren’t busy behind the scenes, they were riding with their group, supporting the community organizations, acting as unofficial ambassadors for the area, and helping local youth access the event, as the East Side Riders Bike Club did by “picking up” students from Fremont High School on their feeder ride up from Watts.

South L.A. youth that rode with the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz to CicLAvia. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

South L.A. youth that rode to CicLAvia with the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz take a break at the Free Lots! site and chat with Sondrina Bullitt of CHC. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

And true to South L.A. advocacy fashion, just about every conversation I had assessed the day’s events, the turnout, and the work that was left to be done.

At the Free Lots! site (hosted by Community Health Councils, TRUST South L.A., Esperanza Community Housing, the Neighborhood Land Trust, Kounkuey Design Initiative, and the Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN)), I talked with LURN Senior Associate Luis Gutierrez about both their efforts to see vacant lots transformed into community assets and the possibility of a cross-cultural dialogue on strengthening communities like South L.A. and Boyle Heights from within (see photos by LURN’s Rudy Espinoza, here)

Over at the Jazz Park Hub, I spoke with Reginald Johnson of the Coalition for Responsible Community Development about CRCD‘s effort to put together a Business Improvement District along Central Ave. and about the challenge of communicating South L.A.’s needs and aspirations to agencies that have little connection to the area or are reluctant to shed old stereotypes, either about its people or the community as a whole. Read more…

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Caribbean-Style Parades, Drum Processions, and Bike Rodeos, Oh My!: Here’s What’s on Tap at CicLAvia on Sunday

Ade Falade puts his bike up on the stand at the repair station outside the KAOS Network in Leimert Park as members of Black Kids on Bikes gather for their monthly ride. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Ade Neff puts his bike up on the stand at the repair station near the Vision Theater in Leimert Park as members of Black Kids on Bikes gather for their monthly ride. BKoB members will be set up here to help repair bikes on Sundays. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Rain, rain stay away. Come again some other Sunday.

This Sunday, December 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., South L.A. will host its first CicLAvia and there is simply too much awesome stuff planned for the rain to make an appearance.

As you hopefully know by now, the route for this year’s event is anchored in two of South L.A.’s more historically significant and vibrant neighborhoods.

Map of the South L.A. route for this weekend's CicLAvia. The 6-mile route runs largely along King Blvd. and has hubs in the historic arts communities of Leimert Park and the Central Ave. Jazz Corridor.

Map of the South L.A. route for this weekend’s CicLAvia. The 6-mile route runs largely along King Blvd. and has hubs in the historic arts communities of Leimert Park and the Central Ave. Jazz Corridor.

And while they are vastly different — Leimert Park is in the throes of an African-American-centric artistic and cultural renaissance while Central Ave., situated on the edge of Historic South Central proper, is now a majority-Latino community and is diligently moving forward on creating a Business Improvement District to spur economic growth along the corridor — both communities are taking the mission of helping residents and visitors alike see their neighborhoods with new eyes very seriously.

Both are also connected by Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. — which hosts the annual King Day parade every January and is flanked (on the Leimert end) by 40′ high pine trees, which were planted in honor of Dr. King.

Families along Martin Luther King Blvd. celebrate at the King Day parade last year. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Families along Martin Luther King Blvd. celebrate at the King Day parade last year. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s overview, because South L.A’s greatest assets are its people — their unique identities, heritage, experiences, cultures, artistry, and aspirations, the day is going to be about much more than riding bicycles. Consider the following list (and CicLAvia’s downloadable pocket version) your formal invitation to get off your bike at a hub and stay a while. Read more…

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Community Gets Ready for Sunday’s CicLAvia: “It’s Going to Be a Good Day for South L.A.”

The East Side Riders' Ride4Love has always been about family, community, and service. Here, ESRBC co-founder Tony August-Jones brings his sons along while nephew Joshua Jones ensures they stay in the carrier. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The East Side Riders have always been about family, community, and service. Here, ESRBC co-founder Tony August-Jones brings his sons along while nephew Joshua Jones helps ensure they stay in the carrier. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

It was exciting, said Community Health Council’s (CHC) Andres Ramirez Huiztek, that South L.A. would finally have the opportunity to “show [people] what CicLAvia can be” this weekend.

If you’ve attended a CicLAvia event before — a festival that spans and connects communities by temporarily closing the streets to cars and opening them to people for recreation — you might be wondering, “Which people? What kind of CicLAvia? A car-free festival really isn’t that complicated, is it?”

In theory, no.

But, in practice — particularly in the planning of the expansion to new communities — it can be.

As CicLAvia organizers and volunteers have learned while putting together events in Boyle Heights/East L.A. and South L.A., communities that have long been marginalized by the city often have different relationships with their streets and different ideas about what it means to be “livable.” And as these communities often consider their people — their unique identities, heritage, shared experiences, cultures, and aspirations — to be their greatest assets, they are adamant that they be seen as more than just a space people will move through. They want to be respected as partners in the planning of how their streets will be re-purposed for the day. And they want to see themselves reflected in the framing of the event and the messaging around it, both so the event feels welcoming to community members unfamiliar with it and to ensure the community is adequately and accurately represented to potential visitors.

In this way, CicLAvia seems to be transitioning from being an “open streets” event to a kind of “open communities” festival. And while that process is not without its growing pains, the unique opportunity it affords neighborhoods to re-introduce themselves to Angelenos on their own terms may help bridge some of the deep divides that mark what can be a surprisingly segregated city.

Map of the South L.A. route for this weekend's CicLAvia. The 6-mile route runs largely along King Blvd. and has hubs in the historic arts communities of Leimert Park and the Central Ave. Jazz Corridor.

Map of the South L.A. route for this weekend’s CicLAvia. The 6-mile route runs largely along King Blvd. and has hubs in the historic arts communities of Leimert Park and the Central Ave. Jazz Corridor.

At least, I hope so.

For South L.A., that means a chance to counter persistent negative stereotypes by introducing people to the diversity and vibrancy of the neighborhoods that comprise the area, showcasing their powerful artistic heritage and the artists carrying those (and new) legacies forward, and shining a light on those community heroes who have tirelessly worked to strengthen their communities from within.

For South L.A. native and advocate-extraordinaire Tafarai Bayne, this day has been a long time coming. Read more…

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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…