My Mind-Blowing Sunday

Last Sunday I experienced something that I was a bit skeptical could exist in Los Angeles: quiet and peaceful streets, free of cars and filled with bikes. I'll be honest, I have never jumped on the whining-about-LA-traffic bandwagon. From where I'm sitting, Los Angeles offers a lot more than traffic. Weekly I'm struck with the realization that I've made LA my home (kind of a big thing for some girl from Lompoc) and I give thanks that this is so.

Facts about travel in Los Angeles are often surprising. For example, according to Wikipedia: "Despite the congestion in the city, the mean travel time for commuters in Los Angeles is shorter than other major cities, including New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago. Los Angeles' mean travel time for work commutes in 2006 was 29.2 minutes, similar to those of San Francisco and Washington, DC." And, also according to Wikipedia: "The primary regional public transportation agency is the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), commonly referred to as Metro or MTA. The agency, which operates bus, light rail and subway services, averages 1.6 million transit trips per weekday, making it the third largest transit agency in the United States."

At least ten of those weekday transit trips are me getting to and from work on the subway. I have a car and I've been stuck in mile-long snarls of cars, but I don't think hours logged behind the wheel defines me as an Angeleno. I think how I engage with the city defines me as an Angeleno, so I spend a lot of time looking for interesting ways to interact with LA and let me tell you, it's not a difficult task.

Because of my faith in Los Angeles and my belief that we aren't nearly as car-centric as others would have us believe, I was really rooting for CicLAvia. CicLAvia, an idea imported to LA from Bogotá, Colombia where prescribed periods of car-free streets are a regular occurrence, saw seven and a half miles of road closed to cars for five hours on Sunday. And what is usually the domain of the automobile was left for bikers, runners, walkers, skateboarders, rollerbladers and whomever else wanted to come out.

I took the subway to the start of the route and pedaled all the way through East Hollywood, past MacArthur Park, through Downtown, through Little Tokyo to East LA and back. And it was amazing. There were all kinds of people and all kinds of non-car modes of transport taking advantage of the route. I've participated in a lot of community events in Los Angeles and I've never seen anything like CicLAvia. My plan was to ride just one way and then hop on the metro at the Civic Center Station to get back to Hollywood. But the excitement of those around me was so contagious, the feel of biking down the middle of the roads so thrilling that I ended up riding the whole way back.

There was, though, one automobile I was very happy to see on Sunday and that was the Lake Street Creamery Truck parked just off the route by City Hall. You may have seen the viral video of a tiny kitten wearing a top hat and licking an ice cream cone... that was an ad for Lake Street. It's so adorable and yet their ice cream was actually more endearing. I got a scoop of Donut, served in a waffle cone bowl. As I took my first bite, I could hear Willy Wonka exclaiming "the snozzberries taste like snozzberries," because the Donut ice cream tastes like donuts. I think there were even tiny pieces of donut in the ice cream. This is what it looked like.

mmm donuty

And about 5 minutes later, THIS is what it looked like.

omm nomnomnom

Lake Street Creamery was the proverbial cherry on top of CicLAvia. And I feel quite confident that there will be more of both in my future and I hope, in yours too.