What is cicLAvia?
The last week or so we at the cicLAvia committee have been a little overwhelmed by the recent media firestorm. The LA Times article from last week touched off a lot of blog coverage, and the ABC TV spot got us some more mainstream coverage. However, most of the coverage has focused on the bike aspect of cicLAvia, and not the pedestrian, community building aspect. We realized we need to have some details up here about what we are planning to do and what cicLAvia is. Also, we have had a lot of inquiries as to how people can help with this effort, so this should give you some idea of where we are now and what kind of help we need.
The story begins 30 years ago in Bogotá, Colombia. Back then, activists and city officials were struggling with overwhelming car traffic and unsafe spaces for pedestrians and bicyclists. Jaime Ortiz and other activists and city offiicials in Bogotá planned an event called the Ciclovía (bike-way). They closed several major streets to cars, and opened them to people. Families promenaded, bicyclists biked, and dog walkers dog-walked in the car-free streets. Eventually this event grew to a weekly street closure, every Sunday morning to early afternoon. This helped change the city from a traffic-choked mess to a more pedestrian and bike-friendly place. Furthermore, it helped foster a better sense of public space and civility.
This concept lately has spread to other cities in Colombia and across Latin America. Guadalajara, Mexico City, Quito, and many other cities hold regular ciclovías. Even more recently, cities in the United States have held pilot ciclovía-like events. New York’s Summer Streets, San Francisco’s Sunday Streets, and Chicago’s Open Streets have all been big hits. This is a really hot idea in progressive transportation and open space policy circles right now.
In October 2008 a small group of pedestrian, bicycle and open space activists were inspired by the Ciclovía idea and started a committee to work on getting this started in Los Angeles. We started preliminary planning and outreach, and decided to name the Los Angeles version of this event cicLAvia (Bringing Ciclovía to LA). Luckily, we have a fantastic graphic designer on board and developed a graphic identity for cicLAvia.
We presented at the Bike Summit in March 2009, where we gained more support and made some contacts with city council officials. We continued to work on developing materials and plans.
More recently the LAPD put on the MacArthur Park Bike Expo, which was a mini, one-block cicLAvia. We coordinated with LAPD to have a booth there to do outreach and get more public support for a full-scale cicLAvia.
We have presented at various events around LA and garnered a lot of support. Recently we had a meeting with the Mayor’s office where city officials expressed initial support for a pilot cicLAvia project. They recommended that we start with a smaller-scale cicLAvia in a neighborhood with lots of community support, to make sure that the first event is a smashing success. We understand that community, grass-roots support for the project is key.
With this in mind we have recently approached the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council (EHNC) since it is one of the most pedestrian and bike-friendly Neighborhood Councils around. (They had the most rockin’ Park(ing) Day event!) Tonight the EHNC officially endorsed the cicLAvia in East Hollywood, with a possible collaboration with Artcycle in mind. We are also in the process of planning public scoping/planning meetings, so that the residents of East Hollywood can tell us where they think the best route would be.
The future for cicLAvia is bright, and it will happen this spring, the only question is how big will it be!
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