CicLAvia returns to Los Angeles April 10th for a repeat performance of what many have declared "the most astonishing" thing to happen to Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics. Based on the 37-year-old "ciclovía" originally from Bogotá, Colombia, CicLAvia (pronounced seek-la-VEE-ah) opens 7.5 miles of Los Angeles city streets as a temporary ribbon of public space to pedestrians, strollers, roller-skaters, skateboarders and cyclists.
An impressive 100,000 took part on 10/10/10 when CicLAvia premiered in Los Angeles for the first time. But the numbers and the miles just begin to scratch the surface of what made this such an extraordinary day -- and what makes CicLAvia one of the most transformative projects for Los Angeles. The route connects neighborhoods as diverse as Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo, Downtown's Historic core, MacArthur Park's Little Central America, Koreatown and the Bicycle District of East Hollywood.
But this isn't some hypothetical "connection" -- it's visceral. You can walk from Hollywood across the river to Boyle Heights. You read it right. You can stroll at your leisure enjoying the sights and sounds of a city without automobiles. The whole route from end to end should take you a little over two hours on foot -- only about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace on a bike.
Along the way, you'll have the chance to meet your fellow Angelenos, take in the amazing architecture and see things you've never been able to see before. The streets belong to all of us but we collectively give up our rights to them and assign them to the all-pervasive automobile. This is our chance to reclaim Los Angeles as a city with a heart through each of our soles and spokes.
It's an amazing feeling to bike over the 4th Street bridge and to experience the beauty of downtown as it appears magically over the horizon from Boyle Heights. The majesty of the bridge and the enormity of the river finally gives dignity to the crime the Army Corps of Engineers inflicted upon Los Angeles when they concretized this magnificent river and turned it into a flood control channel. And this is just one of the many surprises and delights in store along the 7.5 mile CicLAvia route.
A loose band of citizen activists came together almost three years ago to begin dreaming and planning for a Los Angeles version of the wildly popular ciclovía idea. Now, with the full support of Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council, this public/community/corporate collaboration will be offered three times in 2011 and six times in 2012, and hopefully it will become a regular monthly program by 2013.
Come and be a part of the movement on April 10 as tens of thousands of your fellow Angelenos stroll, bike, run, skate and walk through the streets of this town, and experience Los Angeles as you've never seen it before!
Aaron Paley is a CicLAvia Producer and Board Member