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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…

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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…