Photos: CicLAvia was 7.5 Miles of 100,000 Smiles
By all accounts, Los Angeles experienced something amazing for five hours on Sunday. An estimated 100,000 people took to a stretch of 7.5 miles of streets closed off to cars and open to people. And those people responded with positive zeal.
Based on Ciclovia in Bogota, Colombia (and later in U.S. cities like San Francisco and New York City), CicLAvia was an open streets festival that let Angelenos claim public space, usually reserved for vehicles, with a different perspective. In a sense, it was one long park that snaked through the city, if only for a handful of hours.
"As the car capital of the world, we know a lot about congestion and pollution here in Los Angeles," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last month. "Our streets are filled with traffic, our air polluted with toxic fumes, and our children suffer from obesity and other health conditions caused by the scarcity of public space, dirty air, and safe, healthy transportation options."
While a majority of participants used the chance to cycle between East Hollywood and Boyle Heights via a variety of neighborhoods like downtown and MacArthur Park, others used it to dance, have a game of dodgeball or tennis, do yoga, make art, or go for a run.
Villaraigosa, like many others, hopes that CicLAvia becomes more than a one-time event. Luckily, the inaugural event may have proved its worth.
Damien Newton at Streetsblog LA explains that while 100,000 is a very impressive number for attendance, there's also another very important one: zero. "That’s the number of “major incidents” reported along the route. That number includes interactions between the different mode users: bicyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, rollerbladers, that guy on the surfboard thing with wheels. That number includes the interactions between the attendees of the events and the LAPD. As for Los Angeles’ finest, it was hard to find a sour face amongst the hundreds of police on the streets. Even though they were working, they were as caught up in the wonder of the day as everyone else."
Wonder and amazement it was. Throughout the event you could hear numerous variations of "this is so cool."
"It's kind of surreal because this is my actual commute home from work, but instead of all cars, it's all bikes," said YouTube user Ohaijoevideo in his video. "There must be miles of bikes... Wouldn't it be great to just do this every Sunday?"
How was your CicLAvia experience? Share it below in the comments section.