Over the weekend, Los Angeles closed 12 kilometers of its streets to motor traffic to celebrate its second CicLAvia. In place of the cars, an estimated 100,000 people on bikes, skates and foot took over. All along the route, shop owners were encouraged to open their doors to the people-powered traffic and activities were held to draw folks into the street to explore neighborhoods they may never have seen outside the confines of a car.
The event is supported by Los Angeles Mayor (and cycling proponent) Antonio Villaraigoso, who acknowledged that once the bureaucratic obstacles were removed, the benefits were mesmerizing. He’d like to see the event, last held in October 2010, eventually held at least one time per month so that the car-driving public can become better educated about sharing the road with cyclists and others, especially as LA expands its cycle routes to 2575 kilometers. He’s even looking to expand the route of the next CicLAvia to better accommodate the overwhelming number of bicyclists who jammed the 12 km route on Sunday.
The event originated over 30 years ago in Bogota, Colombia in response to traffic congestion and pollution on city streets. In LA, the success of CicLAvia seems to be, at least in part, thanks to the community grown by the Bicycle Coalition and the Midnight Ridazz, an amorphous group of bike enthusiasts who take Friday night rides around town, often with as many as 1300 riders participating in the party. And thanks to these rolling good times, LA riders– young and old, fast and slow– can now look forward to the implementation of a huge, new bicycle infrastructure.
That’s some kind of good news, if you ask me.