An estimated 130,000 people took to several miles of closed Los Angeles streets on Sunday for biking, walking, jogging, rollerblading and even the occasional game of four square and dodgeball. This was the second-ever CicLAvia, the Angeleño version of Ciclovía from Bogotá, Colombia, where streets are closed to vehicles and taken over by the people. There it happens weekly. In Los Angeles, this was the first of three for 2011.
It's the hope of many that it eventually becomes as frequent here.
"I can't tell you how many happy, smiling faces I encountered on my ride yesterday," wrote Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who looks forward to more of the events, about his experience on Sunday. "As Angelenos, we spend so much time in our cars we often forget that walking or biking or skating isn't just a great way to exercise, it's a great way to get to know and enjoy our many vibrant neighborhoods."
That point--exercise--is a key element to the event. One of CicLAvia's biggest funders at $50,000 (split between the October and April dates) was the California Endowment, which last year began its major "Building Healthy Communities" directive that specifically concentrates on 10 California communities. Those include Boyle Heights, which has book-ended the past two events, and South L.A., which is eyed for future routes.
With that in mind, we asked four families what they thought of the event. Here's what they said.
"We're just trying to take advantage of the weather. Lately we've been staying indoors because of the weather," said Antonio Aragon, an artist and muralist who came out with his family from his south-of-downtown neighborhood. "Usually we just stay home, watch a movie or go out to an indoors kind of thing." As to whether or not the city should do CicLAvia's more often: "Yeah, definitely! There's a lot of people out here with a lot of energy."
Jimmy Johnson of West L.A. brought his daughter to CicLAvia to do something different. "She doesn't get to experience riding in the streets," he said. On a nice day like Sunday, he would usually ride at the beach, but looks forward to more events. "If this was at least once a month, that would be nice."
"This is a great thing for the city," said Jeff Booth of Sierra Madre. "There's all kinds of people out here: you see the tall bike crowd with the Midnight Ridazz, you see families on cruiser bikes, you see sporty folks, all types. It's a great way to see the city."
"In a city like L.A., we should be at the forefront," said Michael Lopez of El Sereno. "I think we're catching up with other places like San Diego and Portland. With the weather we have and the relatively level streets, we should be riding all the time."
Lopez rides his bicycle to work, but took advantage of the closed streets for his kids. "Without this, no way would my daughter be out on the street on a bicycle," he continued. He did take them off the CicLAvia route to eat at Tommy Burger, but found the streets too chaotic and stuck to the sidewalk. "Once we got back to the route, no problem."