It's a beautiful morning in Los Angeles. A few clouds are drifting, and light winds are blowing in the cold air from the not-so-distant, snow-capped mountains. I love Sundays. Aside from the absence of an alarm jerking me from sleep, there is also the bold Zapatista coffee and, of course, the not-having-to-drive-anywhere euphoria. Speaking of not-driving euphoria, today Los Angeles bicyclists and community advocates are holding their second CicLAvia, a community event where 7.5 miles of L.A.’s roads will temporary shut down to car traffic, giving Angelenos a rare opportunity to walk, skate, cycle, and socialize through the zigzagging heart of Los Angeles. Inspired by the weekly Ciclovía events held in Bogotá, Colombia, CicLAvia aims to encourage Angelenos to “not only make active use of their streets, but to rediscover the roadways and neighborhoods that too often go unnoticed in a car.” Colombia gives us a great example of how significant and empowering such an event can be for a city. They shut down 70 miles of roadways and have recreational stations set up throughout the bike path. Free yoga classes. Open-air Aerobics. Música, arte, actividades, educación. In other words, in Colombia, the Ciclovía is serious. Check out the following Street Films video link to get a real feel for Colombia’s weekly ritual: http://www.streetfilms.org/ciclovia/
We still have a long way to go in Los Angeles in regards to putting people before cars, but the organizers of CicLAvia are doing a fantastic job of initiating a new, eco-friendly, resident-centered trend in our city. Today's event is also a reminder that it isn't true that "Nobody Walks in L.A." as Missing Persons sings. That's an L.A. myth. Many Angelenos walk (me included), and others cycle or take public transportation. Still, it's not a city-wide norm and considering the lack of bike lanes and the level of aggression on the road, walking or cycling in L.A. can be dangerous. CicLAvia offers us safe, public space to get our walk, cycle or rollerblade ride on!
Today’s CicLAvia will begin at 10:00 A.M. in Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights, cruise through Downtown, go past MacArthur Park and end in East Hollywood. Along the route, there will be bands, food, vendors, impromptu activities, and lots of cool bike shops. An estimated 100,000 cyclists, pedestrians, skaters and community members are expected to participate. Hope to see you there! For a map of the route or more detailed information on CicLAvia check out http://www.ciclavia.org/content/action-center