On Sunday, Aug. 14, Los Angeles will shut down 3.5 miles of one of its most historic corridors to celebrate the 18th CicLAvia event – a party that brings community members together by giving up motorized vehicles for a day.
CicLAvia is the nation’s largest open street festival for people to walk, skate, bike, play and explore the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Sunday’s route on Wilshire Boulevard from Grand Avenue to Western Avenue is considered one of the friendliest for runners and walkers and will take participants through downtown and Koreatown. The route doesn’t have a designated start or finish line and people are invited to begin at any point along the course.
CicLAvia events started in Los Angeles in October 2010, but the concept can be traced back to the 1970s, when an event named Ciclovía – which means “bike path” in Spanish – opened the streets to walkers, skaters and cyclists in Bogotá, Colombia.
CicLAvia executive director Romel Pascual said city officials did not know in 2010 how big the event was going to be, but after 17 CicLAvia events, they have learned that Angelenos have an appetite to travel through the streets without their cars.
He said in addition to the health benefits and activities that bring the community together, one of the highlights of CicLAvia events is that they make the city feel small and more accessible without the constant humming of engines and squeaking car breaks. He said the event helps Angelenos rediscover neighborhoods that they would not otherwise explore, as it is also a celebration of the community.
“[To some participants] these are communities that people only read about or hear about,” Pascual said.
Sunday’s route “harkens back to the historic nature” of Wilshire Boulevard and will feature landmarks such as the Wiltern Theatre, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the former Bullock’s Wilshire, American Cement Building, Westlake Theatre and the Pegasus Apartments.
“At any point, you can stand in the middle and look down the street and see the history in the architecture and you can also see the evolution with the new places, shops, businesses, restaurants, and the cultural diversity, block-by-block, that creates the rich history of Los Angeles.”
Three hubs will be located along the route. The first hub is located at 1 Wilshire Blvd. where participants can help paint at the Mobile Mural Lab from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will also include a bike safety skills course and free helmets for kids.
The second hub will be located near MacArthur Park where participants can sign up for a library card and find the roaming Los Angeles Public Library book bike. The Koreatown hub is located near the Wiltern Theater – the original CicLAvia headquarters – where community members can rent a bike from Bikes and Hikes and enjoy live music.
Pascual said it is difficult to estimate attendance without a start or finish line, but officials estimate that more than 1.2 million people have participated in CicLAvia events that have covered 119 miles of streets. Pascual cited studies that show the event reduces air emission by 50 percent compared to a typical Sunday. Economic studies from UCLA show the event also gives a 10-60 percent boost to local businesses, depending on how active operators are during the event.
“At any one CicLAvia event, you get residents representing 75 percent of the zip codes in Los Angeles,” he said. “Those zip codes represent 80 percent of the population. It’s a true cross section of the city.”
Pasqual said approximately 80 percent of the participants ride bikes, but coordinators encourage all forms of “non-motorized mobility,” like walking or jogging.
“What’s more non-motorized than your feet?” he said.
For the first time, CicLAvia will launch a pre-event 5K run at 8 a.m. that starts at 3780 Wilshire Blvd. in Koreatown and ends near the downtown CicLAvia hub, where Nike representatives and city officials will kick-off the festival at 9 a.m. at the intersection with Flower Street. Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero and Department of Transportation general manager Seleta Reynolds will join Pascual, who will emcee the kick-off.
CicLAvia will also offer five pedicabs (bike operated taxis) to make it easier for people to travel throughout the route.
No parking will be allowed on Wilshire from 1 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday between Grand and Western Avenues. Vehicles will be towed beginning at 1 a.m. Additional street parking near the route may be restricted. There are car crossing points at Vermont Avenue, Alvarado Street and Figueroa Street.
Participants who want to join the Mid City West Community Council’s riders should meet at 8:15 a.m. at I. Martin Bicycles, located at 8330 Beverly Blvd. Riders will roll out at 8:30 to the event.
For information, call CicLAvia at (213)355-8500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the street closure permit, call (213)847-6000.
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