Viva SGV Open Streets El Monte & South El Monte Open Thread

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Yesterday Viva SGV arrived to the cities of El Monte and South El Monte. Sponsored by Metro, Viva SGV was the longest open street event in the San Gabriel Valley, for a couple weeks at least until 626 Golden Streets. The 5-mile loop brought a buzz of activity to city parks, wide lane boulevards, and the Rio Hondo Bike Path.

Despite the morning being slightly overcast, families and children filled major community hubs while enjoying the plentiful food trucks, live concerts and bounce houses among other neighborhood activities. The event showcased a variety of street-side scenery ranging from the Rio Hondo river corridor, El Monte Valley Mall shops, community churches, and wholesale supply storefronts.

The open streets event, as expected, was friendly and welcoming to cyclists with free bicycle valet service and bicycle check-up service courtesy of Bike SGV.

As a newcomer to L.A. open street events, the neighborhood street activity and scenery across delighted me at every turn. It was a common sight to see families enjoying popsicles and ice cream curbside outside many storefronts. The route was a 5-minute walk from the El Monte Metrolink station. Streets were clear of car traffic due the diligence of friendly traffic officials staffing each of the 8 intersection crossing points.

Just one 5-mile loop brought a pleasant blend of bustling community hubs, wide-open boulevards, and snaking Rio Hondo bikeways – diverse scenery that accentuated the civic and familial benefits of bicycle-friendly streets across the San Gabriel Valley’s multiple land-uses and landscapes.

On a more personal note, (and a shout out to eager parents!) seeing the route’s many children enjoy the open-streets on a warm overcast afternoon was a pleasant reminder of my past parent-led Sunday excursions to New England bike paths, memories that I still cherish and am grateful for today.

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Food trucks lined Arceo Park, providing plenty of appetizing lunch options. Photos by Doug Lewis

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A BikeSGV tune-up station surrounded by Viva SGV bicyclists
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The El Monte Metrolink station was just a 5 minute walk from the route, which includes the Rio Hondo bike path. Multi-modal transportation in action.
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A portion of the Rio Hondo Bike path section, showcasing existing bike infrastructure and its potential linkages with arterial open-streets
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People skating and cycling on South El Monte’s Rush Street
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The Viva SGV event suited the traditional Main Street scale of El Monte’s Valley Mall street
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Booths at the South El Monte Martin Van Dyke Park hub
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The Rio Hondo bike path alongside the elevated railroad viaduct, downstream from Valley Mall in El Monte
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While some portions of the route included human-scale walk-up businesses, large portions of the route were industrial wholesale establishments, closed and mostly lacking in character and activity

Readers – did you attend Viva SGV? What were your impressions?

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  • Joe Linton

    My daughter and I had a good time… but I have to say that it was the most sparsely-attended open streets event I’ve ever been to (the next sparsest was probably Downey). I am going to guess that there maybe 4000-8000 participants total, which meant quite a bit of very empty streets. I am not sure what to blame this on: competing events (River Ride, Pride festival – plus lots of other open streets events this spring), location (lack of easy Metro connections), publicity, or who knows. It worries me that these cities might, in the future, say “oh we tried it, and it doesn’t work here.”
    The hubs were full of activity, but the wide streets between them were nearly empty in places. The music was great, the people friendly – and the frozen yogurt and Mexican food (from local businesses) were delicious. I was impressed with the scale of Valley Mall (street) which has an excellent Main Street scale.

  • dexter

    I walked the event with my daughter. Started at Garvey, down past Central, then back-up to the festivities north of Garvey. Ok event, may have been better attended if not for the weather.

    Two observations/suggestions:

    1) At no similar event have I ever seen so many law enforcement vehicles (appeared to be primarily LASD) driving up and down the route or allowing vehicles along the route to drive through. As a ped with a child, this made me somewhat uncomfortable and seemed to be happening every 5-10 minutes.

    1) Land uses along Tyler left a lot to be desired and I think contributed to the “dead” feeling along the route. Businesses and people would have made for a more attractive and inviting route.

    Looking forward to Golden Streets.

  • mtran

    The Asian American Bike Tour was a great success! After the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center’s Taiko performance at Arceo Park, we toured through El Monte and South El Monte to learn more about new developments impacting the community and share the uncharted Asian American history of the two cities.

    Route stops and topics below:

    1) El Monte High School – Early History of El Monte
    2) B Nutritious – Local Business with Healthy Alternatives
    3) Civic Center – Lady Liberty & History of Gang Violence
    4) Valley Mall – History of Downtown El Monte
    5) Rio Hondo River Bike Path – Proposed Urban National Recreation Area
    6) Lashbrook Park – Emerald Necklace & South El Monte Facts
    7) Santa Anita & Garvey – Thai Garment Workers Case
    8) Viet Huong – Personal Stories

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