This Sunday, 100,000 bicycles and pedestrians will take to 15 miles of car-free streets for Ciclavia -- To the Sea. Part bike route, part block party, Ciclavia offers Angelenos an opportunity to get out of the car and into the community.
Ciclavia started thirty years ago in Colombia, as ciclovia (Spanish for "bike path"), in response to traffic congestion and pollution. Every Sunday, 80 miles of Bogota streets are blocked off to cars and taken over by pedestrians, bicycles, and skateboarders. The event has spread around the world, and L.A. had its first Ciclavia in April, 2010.
Ciclavia Executive Director Aaron Paley estimates that this weekend's route is fifty percent longer than any previous Ciclavia, stretching from downtown L.A., across 7th Street, and down Venice Boulevard all the way to the beach. This weekend will also be the first time Ciclavia extends outside downtown. "This is the first time we've introduced a brand-new route," Paley says.
To the Sea will not be the only Ciclavia event outside downtown this year. "Ciclavia -- Iconic Wilshire Boulevard" will run along Wilshire Boulevard on June 22nd in a partnership with Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture LA. "Ciclavia -- Heart of LA" will be a return to Ciclavia's roots on October 6th in downtown L.A.
Paley hopes that Ciclavia will become a regular and more frequent event. "We'd like to see, within three to five years, that there is a Ciclavia every month, and that each month it occurs in a different part of the L.A. area," Paley says.
In a city that has long been defined by car culture, Ciclavia challenges the idea that a car is necessary to get around L.A. "It's interesting to note that you can effectively go from one end of the city to the other without a car," Paley says. While L.A. waits for a viable public transportation option to connect the Eastside and the Westside (the long-awaited "Subway to the Sea"), Paley says that an event like Ciclavia shows that "in the meantime, there are a bunch of other ways to do it."
Don't have a bike? Rent a bicycle from your local bike shop. Don't want to ride a bike? Ciclavia is open to joggers, walkers, skateboarders and anyone who isn't riding motorized transportation. Ciclavia is not intended to be a bicycle freeway, and participants don't have to travel the entire route.
"There's no requirement that you do the whole thing," Paley says. "It's not a marathon."
If your bicycle needs a tune-up, community groups and bike shops will offer bicycle support and repair along the way. American & Black Heart Bikes will be wrenching at the El Pueblo hub at the start of the route, Bici Libre at Macurther Park, and REI in Venice.
And if you want to ride to Ciclavia but you don't want to ride alone, check out the "Feeder Rides" on Ciclavia's website. Ciclavia organizers also recommend taking public transportation to the event whenever possible.