This Sunday (10/10/10), Los Angeles hosted CicLAvia, a ride on closed streets that stretched from Melrose to Boyles Heights in downtown L.A. Although similar events have happened in other cities around the country, Los Angeles had never hosted a cycling event of this magnitude. Los Angeles has historically been a very car-centric city, so getting approval of the event was a great accomplishment by the organizers.
CicLAvia is based on Cicloviá (meaning bike path), a social event that began in Bogotá, Columbia in 1976. The purpose of the event then, as it is now, is to promote community interaction and cycling in urban environments. Since the inaugural event, Bogotá now hosts Cicloviás every Sunday and on every holiday. The event has grown from merely an event for cyclists to a cultural experience, featuring aerobics classes, yoga, performance artists, musicians, and lectures. In addition to growing in scope, the event has also grown geographically, spreading throughout Latin America.
As a company based in Southern California, we really want to stay active in the local and regional cycling community, so we were excited to be part of the event. After picking up some bikes and some companions, we embarked for the corner of Heliotrope and Melrose not really knowing what to expect.
The Route began in the “bicycle district” of L.A., home to several independently owned cycling related or themed businesses. From there, the route went South through MacArthur Park, then City Hall, and ending at Hollenbeck Park.
Upon arriving, we immediately realized that there were more people in attendance than we had anticipated. I honestly thought that the ride would only be a few thousand strong. However, there were probably about a thousand people just at the bicycle district! At any one time, that street was packed with people talking about bikes, dancing to one of the live DJ’s, getting food from a local restaurant or food truck, or just walking their bike to get to the route.
We rolled down New Hampshire Ave., and I quickly lost track of my duty to take pictures. Before I knew it, I was just smiling, talking with others as we rode, and enjoying the L.A. streets devoid of cars. It was probably the best possible way to see so much of Los Angeles, and we were able to do so in the company of fellow bike enthusiasts. The rest of the ride was a blur, so here are some pictures, and some links to Google Street View so you can check out where we rode:
Like many people on the ride, we dropped by several businesses along the route for snacks and drinks. (What is better than a mid-ride cupcake?) Businesses seemed to enjoy the increased Sunday sales. The estimated 100,000 attendees made such a strong impression that the organizers are already planning 4 to 5 events for 2011 and hope to make it a monthly event in 2012.
Check out CicLAvia’s homepage for more details.