Thank You Mayor Villaraigosa and City of Los Angeles
There are so many folks to thank for playing important roles in making L.A.’s very first CicLAvia a great success – so this is the first of a series of thank you articles.
We’re going to start with the folks at the city of Los Angeles. CicLAvia was truly a partnership. At every turn, L.A. City and the CicLAvia non-profit organization worked very closely together to ensure the event’s success.
Our hats are off to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. We at CicLAvia were pushing to make CicLAvia happen in 2009, but, as is often the case with innovative new programs, it was difficult. Then the mayor visited Copenhagen and Mexico City and saw the roles that bicycling and ciclovía events play in those cities. Upon his return, he told his staff, General Managers, and Commissioners to make it happen here. That’s when the ball really got rolling. The mayor’s eloquent promotion of CicLAvia in the press raised the event’s profile. We were really happy that Villaraigosa kicked off Sunday’s CicLAvia at Hollenbeck Park and bicycled two miles to City Hall. We can’t stress enough that this event would not have taken place without Mayor Villaraigosa’s leadership.
A huge huge thank you to mayoral staff who implemented the mayor’s initiative. Leading the charge for CicLAvia was transportation deputy Heidi Sickler, who brought together so many city departments and bureaus. Sickler’s persistence, thoroughness, and diplomacy are what made CicLAvia happen. Deputy Mayor for the Environment Romel Pascual and Deputy Mayor for Transportation Jaime de la Vega played central roles. Rebecca Verdolino and Beth Jines were instrumental in lining up non-general-fund monies for city services. Lastly, kudos to mayoral press deputy Adam Cooper for getting the word out early and consistently.
Los Angeles Department of Transportation General Manager Rita Robinson marshalled LADOT’s expertise and experience. Robinson’s support of the event was critical from early planning through to day-of coordination. We’re very grateful to LADOT’s Robinson; we wish her success as she moves on, and we hope she passes along CicLAvia tips to her successor.
We owe a big debt of gratitude to LADOT Special Traffic Operations & Street Closure Chief Aram Sahakian. Sahakian had visited the original ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia, and was able to translate its crossing points and other features onto the idiosyncracies of Los Angeles streets. Sahakian’s expertise was what allowed for 60,000+ Angelenos to gather safely last Sunday, with no incidents, no car-bike collisions, and a minimum of disruption to car and transit circulation outside the event. We’re grateful that Sahakian listened to us, CicLAvia’s non-profit organizers, and toned down some of our wilder ideas while keeping the vital core of the event intact.
Thanks also to many more city elected officials who supported CicLAvia. City Council president Eric Garcetti supported CicLAvia early on and came out Sunday and skipped the morning press conference in favor of bicycling the route. Garcetti, who got an earful from some constituents whose roadways and driveways were blocked, showed leadership in shepherding event approvals through City Council. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, an emerging leader in rethinking L.A.’s streets, was an early and steadfast CicLAvia supporter. Special thanks to Huizar for facilitating complicated freeway off ramp closures on the east end of the route. Councilmber Ed Reyes, a longtime leader in planning for safer and more walkable bikeable streets, visited the ciclovía-inspired Via RecreActiva in Guadalajara, Mexico, and brought that vision back home. Councilmember Tom LaBonge was supportive all along, biked his portion of the route, and provided important feedback. LaBonge was out of town over the past weekend, but the next day he called to congratulate us, and let us know that he’s looking forward to riding the next one and the one after that. Councilmember Jan Perry supported CicLAvia and connected us with critical players in Downtown Los Angeles. (Special thanks to council staff: Edel Vizcarra, Jessica Wethington Mclean, Marcel Porras, Jill Sourial, Greg Fisher, and Erik Sanjurjo.)
Then there are the councilmembers whose districts are not directly on the route (yet!) We’re grateful that the full council was able to affirm and support CicLAvia as an important event for all Angelenos. Transportation chair Bill Rosendahl‘s leadership was great (special thanks to his deputy Paul Backstrom.) Thanks to Councilmember Herb Wesson for supporting an early version of the CicLAvia route that went through a small portion of his district, and then still supporting the revised route that didn’t. Lastly, thanks to the remainder of the full council that approved city support for CicLAvia: Richard Alarcon, Janice Hahn, Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian, Bernard Parks, Greig Smith, and Dennis Zine. Thanks also to city controller Wendy Greuel for her support.
Now back to acknowledging LADOT civil servants: Robert Sanchez,
Carlos Rodriguez and Carlos Morales all played important roles. DOT’s Zaki Mustafa was responsible for getting 7.5-miles worth of temporary signage up. Chief Jimmy Price (with assistance from Christine Mata) was responsible for coordinating all the LADOT traffic officers who waved cyclists, cars and buses through crossing point intersections.
LADOT Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery was a strong supporter and was called to serve as the DOT’s CicLAvia media spokesperson, cultivating early support. Thanks also to Chris Kidd, author of the LADOT bike blog for getting the word out and volunteering on Sunday.
Public Works Commissioner Andrea Alarcon was very helpful in the event permitting process, and it was a treat to see Public Works Commisioner Paula Daniels bicycling that day!
The city’s Public Works Department, Bureau of Street Services (BoSS) contributed to the event in a couple of ways. Prior to 10-10-10, BoSS crews repaired pavement hazards, thanks to BoSS’ Street Resurfacing Chief Bill Robertson with Nazario Sauceda, John Sapone and Gary Gsell. A shout out also to BoSS Sergeant David Rivera who was responsible for barricades and street sweeping. Public Works’ Bureau of Sanitation Jose P. Garcia distributed trash and recycling bins.
The city Fire Department’s involvement was headed up by Captain Philip Ayala.
Last but certainly not least, CicLAvia’s organizers and participants owe a huge debt of gratitude to Los Angeles’ Police Department for keeping the event safe and secure. Sergeant Angel Correa coordinated officer deployment. Lieutenant Raymond Garvin oversaw contract services. Sergeant James Baker was the lead LAPD Officer on duty at CicLAvia.
Though we can’t name you all, thanks to all the officers, engineer, and other city staff who showed great professionalism playing your roles to make CicLAvia the great success that it was.
And, in case readers would like to let your city officials know how much you appreciated (or didn’t appreciate) CicLAvia, here’s a list of emails addresses for the Mayor and Council. We recommend keeping these emails fairly short and always courteous. (If you’re willing, please cc: us at info@cicLAvia.org )
For the City Council:
(Much more non-city folks to thank – keep your RSS tuned to CicLAvia)