CicLAvia: When it’s OK to Play in the Street

Photo: David Starkopf, Office of the Mayor

Yesterday, over a hundred thousand Los Angeles residents turned out for the second-ever cicLAvia.  Envisioned as a way to get busy Angelenos out of their cars and into the streets together, cicLAvia opens up a 7.5 mile route along our city streets, allowing cyclists, skaters, and pedestrians to enjoy a car-free LA.

Ciclovías originated in Bogotá, Colombia over thirty years ago in response to traffic, congestion, and poor air quality.  Now they are fun, family-friendly recreational events taking place in cities all across the U.S. and Latin America.  I was proud to host the first Los Angeles cicLAvia last year, and our second one has already proven to be an even bigger success.

David Starkopf, Office of the Mayor

I can’t tell you how many happy, smiling faces I encountered on my ride yesterday.  People weren’t just happy to be outside — safely enjoying our streets — they were happy to be interacting with their neighbors and supporting local businesses along the route.  As Angelenos, we spend so much time in our cars we often forget that walking or biking or skating isn’t just a great way to exercise, it’s a great way to get to know and enjoy our many vibrant neighborhoods.

With that in mind, I was thrilled to sign the 2010 Bike Plan into law last month.  This visionary plan will transform Los Angeles with 1,600 miles of open, ride-able surfaces.  The plan will make cycling a more viable transportation option for countless commuters, encourage more healthy habits and recreational opportunities, and build more sustainable communities.  With this plan, we are literally paving the way to a 21st century Los Angeles: a cleaner, greener, more bicycle and pedestrian friendly city that is home to a number of viable transportation options.  In the meantime, I hope to enjoy many more cicLAvias, because we can only build the Los Angeles of the future tomorrow if we come together to envision it today.

  • Wow–I thought I rode past someone that look an awful lot like Villaraigosa, and now that I see this photo, I’m certain it was him.

  • Darleneayres

    Hurrah for Los Angeles and the bike riders! Keep up the good work! A Bostonian Rider

  • I volunteered in both CicLAvia events in Los Angeles. It’s one of the best days in the year for so many reasons mostly stated above in the article. I’m thrilled that this will be happening more often.

  • We spotted him at Bottega Louis too. My friend Brigham got a photo with him.

  • Fayewachs

    I can’t wait for the one in July!

  • Bc1

    Thank you Mayor Antonio!! You rock!

  • This event makes me hate cyclists. There was no regard for pedestrians who wanted to walk in the street. I am now 100% convinced that pedestrians and cyclists have competing interests.

    LA MapNerd was saying that cyclists were telling him to get out of the road. Gee, what does this remind you of? I thought streets were for people. Haha, which goes to show you how the bicycling mantra is such fucking bullshit.

  • I think that we need to figure out how to make CicLAvia work better for more folks – there was definitely bike-ped conflict. I think that both bikes and peds are starved for space in L.A.and I think that we can work together for change.

  • Too bad, 120,000 people disagree with you and had a great time. The merchants along the route also had a great time and made serious bank. It will be back. This one was even more popular than the first. Put on your big boy pants and realize not everyone wants the same things you do. Having one Sunday every once or twice a year set aside for one small part of LA to be car-free is not the end of the world.

  • PedAtLarge

    I agree with both Spokker and Joe. This is advertised as an event for bikes and walkers and honestly, in my experience Cars respect pedestrians right of way alot more than bikes, if CicLAvia can also function as an education for those bikers who don’t already share the road to do so, it can be even grander.

  • Blah

    what Joe Linton said. I hope this can get worked out. bikes are a hybrid of peds and cars. there has to be a way for all modes to co-exist. cycle tracks would be best.

  • I walked in the street for two hours and had nobody say anything negative to me or the group I was walking with. For much of the ride Sammy was riding on my shoulders and he loved waving at the other kids on bikes as they wizzed past. I’m sorry you didn’t have the same experience we did.

  • Anonymous

    It was a great ride and a great time. Everyone was nice, respectable and happy. It was as if LA became Mayberry for a short time.

    I don’t hate all car drivers because of few of them drive drunk, kill people, are rude, homicidal and reckless. If I did, people would think I had a psychological disorder.

  • As a pedestrian taking photos of the cyclists on Sunday, I definitely agree that the cyclists did not respect the double yellow line in the center of the street as they would if they were in a car. However, I had no bad experiences and enjoyed my day.

  • Ridetime

    I only saw one incident whereby 6 pedestrians were walking through a coned intersection and they were spread out left to right to keep the cyclist from advancing. Other than that, most of what I saw were pedestrians and cyclists’ co-existing. In comparison, i’ve seen drivers on 3 lane roads with no cars in the 2 left lanes, and no bike lane on the right side, drive up behind cyclist and lay on the horn yelling, “GET OUT OF THE LANE, GET A CAR”. To all drivers I ask, what’s wrong with the other 2 lane’s? I guess you have to be a cyclist to understand.

  • “Haha, which goes to show you how the bicycling mantra is such fucking bullshit.”

    That’s pretty strong language. So, everyone who rides a bike has to account for the actions of anyone who throws a leg over a bike? Just remember that many new riders are on the streets, some for the first time in years.

    All I know is that we are all pedestrians at one point or another. From what I saw the vast majority of people were respectful of one another. You can choose to focus on the few negatives or look at the big picture that’s full of wonderful, positive things.

  • Amy Silverstein

    Obviously some people are just inconsiderate, no matter what their mode of transportation is, so your generalizations are a little silly. There are also a lot of people who walk like assholes. Safer to be near a walking or cycling asshole than an Escalade-driving asshole!

  • “So, everyone who rides a bike has to account for the actions of anyone who throws a leg over a bike?”

    Just like everyone who drives has to account for the actions of every driver. It’s only fair.

  • Eric B

    I’m tempted to try out the next one on foot or by some other conveyance just to experience the other side. I think there is such a hunger for street space by bicyclists in general that could translate to hostility if pedestrians get in the way on their special day. I did see a number of pedestrians have trouble crossing the street with non-stop flow of bicycles, but the traffic cops were great at making bicyclists stop behind the crosswalks at designated crossing points just for that purpose. All of these potential conflicts were mitigated by everyone’s smiles and positive attitudes to make the open streets work.

    As CicLAvia becomes more frequent a set of “rules” and social norms will create more predictable interactions.

  • Eric B, it’s not their special day. The web site specifically invites pedestrians.

    It’s hilarious that pedestrians not only can’t use a crosswalk when the street is filled with cars, but can’t use it when the street is filled with cyclists.

    So even if you get your bicycle utopia, pedestrians are still screwed.

  • Josef Bray-Ali

    To me, CicLAvia as a bicycle freeway is cool, but doesn’t live up to the promise of the event. The attitudes of a lot of cyclists show that the “roads are for transportation” mentality is not being challenged or changed by this event.

    This shared space can have many uses, and a bicycle freeway is not a fair apportionment of that space given all the other needs people have and the lack of facilities to fulfill those needs.

    The streets need to have more space blocked off with chairs, tables, couches, play areas, musical acts, food vending, dancing, etc. The room for bikes needs to be cut down and the space for other activities needs to be increased and put in the street, on the route.

    I have participated in Park[ing] Day for several years, and it was a bit sad to see that the spirit of re-purposing our streets has been turned into bike-only day. I love bikes, I own a bike shop, I sell bicycling as as lifestyle choice, but I want my city to be more than a bicycle freeway – I want a human city designed around the able bodied cyclists as well as the young, the old, and those interested in more than A to B recreational riding.

  • Eric B

    As usual, Josef is absolutely right. At the October one, there was chalk drawing in the middle of 7th Street. This time the street would’ve been too crowded for activities like that to happen. Some level of in-street programming should be encouraged for the areas with less congestion to help even out the crowds. 7th Street between downtown and MacArthur Park is a logical area, as is 4th Street east of Little Tokyo. Perhaps we can also use all the stub-ends of streets adjacent to the closed route for this kind of spatial programming.

    Some of this will be resolved naturally with a longer route as the bicycle “congestion” is dispersed over more miles. A number of places on the route were absolutely packed with bicycles, making any other use of the street unlikely.

    The other possibility is creating a less-linear route as the event expands. With a single continuous path, the natural way to enjoy the event is to ride from one end to the other (and back, all day long). If the route had branches or stubs, then there would be more programmable space and less of an imperative to just travel through.

  • Bob Davis

    Well said, Mr. Bray-Ali; when it comes from a person as “identified” with the promotion of bicycling as you, it should carry some weight with the cycling community.

  • Acbgmar

    I am all for biking. However, this new fad of biking is not good for everyone. If you want to bike!PLEASE wear a helmet. And this new FAD in Los Angeles seems to be at night…in the DARK, which means you need to wear light colors, lights on your bikes and reflectors on your body and your bike. I was driving home tonight and fortunatly saw a group of riders biking. they did not have helmets on. They were all wearing dark clothes. They were of dark skin. it was all bad ews. Not a good ezapple. please be smart and not stupid.

  • Aha – per Acbgmar – sounds like only light-skinned people should bike!

    But then again I think that this “fad” of biking is good for everyone!


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