They said it couldn’t be done.
No, wait. That was me.
As I recall, when I first heard about plans to shut down L.A. city streets for no apparent purpose, my exact words were, “yeah, right.”
I was wrong.
Against all odds, the capital of car culture is going to host its first ciclovía on Sunday, closing down 7.5 miles of streets through East Hollywood, MacArthur Park, Downtown, and Boyle Heights from 10 am to 3 pm.
And not for a race, a ride, a parade or a street festival. But just because it struck everyone involved as a damn good idea.
Even the mayor got onboard early on, long before his Road to Damascus conversion to bike advocate. In fact, the first time he ever mentioned bicycling as Mayor — back when we still didn’t think he knew what a bike was — it was in support of what we now know as CicLAvia.
A peculiarly Los Angeles variation on a Spanish word that translates to “bike path.” And a uniquely L.A. variation on a popular Latin American event that we’re about see translate from Bogotá to the City of Angeles.
Of course, they couldn’t just call it Bike Path, because then it would take ten years just to get the damn thing approved, let alone built. And all the wealthy homeowners along the Expo Line would be against it.
So what is it?
The simple fact is, no one really knows what’s going to happen Sunday. We can make a reasonably educated guess, based on the original in Bogotá as well as the countless other ciclovías that have spread throughout Latin America, and other recent events in the U.S.
Even New York has their own version. Though in typical New York fashion, they insist on calling it something else to fool people into thinking they invented it.
But L.A., in its own inimitable way, will do it our way.
There will be people on bikes, or course; chances are, lots of people on bikes. You can even borrow a bike if you don’t have your own.
Not to mention people on foot. On skates and skateboards. And in all probability, on lawn chairs and loungers and hammocks and stilts and maybe even pogo sticks.
There may be people playing music, or dancing to it. People playing games, and playing hooky from work or church. People in fancy costumes, and people wearing the same costumes they wear everyday. People visiting museums — for half price, no less. People eating and drinking, and restaurants and coffee shops and food trucks.
Not to mention L.A.’s best non-profit tamales. And what has been called the best pastrami on the planet.
You’ll see L.A. neighborhoods you’ve never seen before. Or never seen this way.
Without cars. And filled with people wondering where all the cars went — and why it can’t be like this all the time.
Best of all, you’ll see Angelenos being Angelenos, in all their glory. And that alone should be worth the price of admission.
Which is free, by the way.
And even here in auto-centric L.A., the only ones who seem to be against it are those arch-conservatives at the no-longer counter culture L.A. Weekly.
Go figure, huh?
And one more added attraction, just to seal the deal. According to the L.A. Times, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the bike community’s new BFF, is planning to ride the entire route.
With helmet and elbow pads, of course.
Now that’s something I want to see.
Volunteers are still needed; email CicLAviaLA@gmail.com.
No point in traveling to a car-free event by car, is there? Gary says CicLAvia could be history in the making. LA Snark invites Angelenos to actually ride their bikes outside for a change. Tips for wheelchair participants. Wear your biking best, because you could be photographed; and not just by the paparazzi for a change. LADOT Bike Blog looks at volunteer opportunities and opportunities for fun, too. LA Eastside says we need it here more than ever. It’s a great way to experience the city, says Daily Sundial. Maybe you can meet up with someone, or maybe even a blogger, but make sure you get the day right. If you’re feeling political, join in on the rally to Kick Coal and Oil Out of Los Angeles. And the Daily Trojan says this is your chance to take to the streets when there’s no Lakers riots scheduled until next spring.
Then again, there is an alternative event for those of you in the South Bay. And Santa Monica’s ciclovía, which had been planned for the same day, has been postponed for now.
A cyclist riding cross country to raise funds for victims of the Gulf oil spill is killed on Wednesday when he’s hit from behind by a pickup just 200 miles from his Florida destination. Roger Grooters of Gulf Shores, Alabama was keeping a blog of his journey; the last entry was dated Tuesday evening, after riding 100.7 miles for the day.
He was 66.
Former national champion and Postal Service rider Kirk O’Bee has been banned for life after a 2nd doping violation; the American Arbitration Association rules that Aussie rider Nathan O’Neil was intimately involved in his doping program. Italy’s top anti-doping prosecutor says all cyclists are on drugs and it should be legalized — or not.
And in another sterling example of sportsmanship, an Aussie cyclist flips off the judges after he’s disqualified for dangerous riding.
On the other hand, Mark Cavendish shows some class by refusing a 5-star hotel to stay with his teammates at the Commonwealth games.
Red light cameras could be used to catch drivers using cell phones; of course, that’s not the only cause of distracted driving. LACBC hosts its first Streetside Outreach Pitstop, and looks for volunteers this month. Long Beach is still looking for volunteers for next week’s bike count, too. San Clemente gets new sharrows; oddly, the city traffic engineer discusses bike lanes, instead. Unbelievably, the man whose lawsuit brought San Francisco’s bike plan to a grinding halt for four years says he plans to appeal. A bike recall for the youngest members of the peloton. Where to ride for the best fall colors. How to uncork a bottle of wine with your bike pump. A warning to beware of glare — and not from the driver you just cut off. Just days after riding in Maine, Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey says Tyler, Texas is his favorite place to ride. Arlington County VA installs bike counters on bike lanes and paths to get an accurate count; why can’t we do that here? A teenage bike thief is arrested after trying to sell a stolen bike back to its owner. An off-duty cop kills a cyclist in the nation’s deadliest state for cyclists. A 72-year old British man is killed after colliding with a cyclist, who was also injured.
Finally, why do anti-bike curmudgeons go so far out of their way to tell you how much they used to ride before their asses outgrew their saddles?
His words, not mine.
I’m biking there (Ciclavia) and bringing my roller skates! Woohoo!
I’ll be watching to see how it goes as after all we might be able to pull something off like that here. After all our planners for about the last 50 years have been trying to re-create L.A here in Auckland. Maybe we can encourage them to do some good for once.
Thanks for making fun of my mistake on my blog, I deserved it. Though I fixed it long before your post went live. No worries, I read your blog regularly and still will.
Hey Julz. It wasn’t so much an attempt to make fun of you as it was to avoid confusion if anyone read it. But since you corrected it, no one will even know what that referred to. And I’m not going to tell.
Not sure where I’m going to be Sunday, since I’ll be on foot if I can talk my wife into going to CicLAvia with me. But if you see me, stop and say hi.
Definitely do not want to confuse anyone about what is looking like a very successful event.
But making fun of such a silly error would be more than understandable. I don’t take myself too seriously, but do want to be accurate.
If I see you I’ll definitely say hello. I’ll be on a little black Torker with a straight handlebar.
[…] addition to plenty of CicLAvia signs in storefront windows, a surge in web interest, and an excellent article in today’s L.A. Times, we’re also seeing some […]
Random co-workers that I don’t usually talk to have randomly asked me if I’m going to CicLAvia. That makes me happy cos people are interested in this event. People I didn’t even know cycled. I hope the turn out is insanely awesome and the LA weekly can suck it. Seriously, what happened there?
While it would be awesome to get Langer’s during CicLAvia, Langer’s is closed on Sundays.
Well that sucks. I was planning a post CicLAvia feast of tamales and pastrami.
Go for tamales, then take the subway over to Union Station and walk to Philippe’s for some french dip.