We’ve come a long way.
It was six years ago, just after I joined the LACBC board of directors, when we were approached by a group with a crazy idea to shut down the streets of LA, and let people take over for a few hours.
Or maybe open the streets for the first time in decades.
They told us about a weekly festival down in Bogota, Columbia called a ciclovía. And said they wanted to try the same thing here in Los Angeles.
As I recall, there was a lot of skepticism in the room.
Not that we didn’t like the idea. But that was before then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Road to Damascus moment when he fell off his bike; in fact, he had yet to publicly utter the word bicycle. And there was little faith that the city would ever allow something like that.
Especially on my part.
But despite the doubts, it seemed like an idea worth pursuing.
And so one of my first acts as a board member was to vote to support the effort, and act as financial sponsor to help them raise funds.
It seems to have worked out okay.
From that very first event on 10/10/10, it quickly grew to become America’s largest and most successful open streets event.
And yes, I was there, along 40,000 or so fellow Angelenos.
My favorite CicLAvia moment came in the very first one, when I looked up and realized I just happened to be riding next to the mayor.
So I struck up a conversation, thanking Villaraigosa for his new-found support of bicycling in general, and CicLAvia in particular.
But the conversation quickly shifted as we discussed his legacy as mayor, and he went off on an off-color rant about certain members of the city council.
And suddenly, we were just two guys chatting as we rode our bikes, surrounded by thousands of other people doing exactly the same thing.
That’s when I fell in love with CicLAvia.
Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of of the event, with a return to a slightly modified version of the original Heart of Downtown route.
And probably around 100,000 more people than the first time around. Although it’s pretty much guaranteed officials will undercount the attendance, just like they have every other time.
Admittedly, it is hard to take attendance when people come and go throughout the day, and not everyone rides, walks or skates the full route, while others do it multiple times.
And that’s a key point the press often seems to miss.
Despite its origins within the bicycling community, and a name based on the original Bogota ciclovía, which translates to bike way, this is not a bike event.
It’s a human event.
And open to anyone who travels by human power, whether on two wheels, two feet, skates, scooters or skateboards. Or even chairs, if you want to just pull one up and watch the world go by.
Speaking of CicLAvia, one of the early followers of this site recently realized his dream of opening his own microbrewery in Downtown LA.
Todd Mumford had frequently discussed beers and brewing, and the seemingly endless search for the right location, as he forwarded tips to various news stories.
Including his own painful run-in with a with an inattentive driver.
Now Mumford Brewing is finally up and running, and churning out some of the city’s best brews. And they invite you to visit them just off the Sunday’s CicLAvia course.
While you are out enjoying a lovely day rolling through the DTLA CicLAvia route, feel free to wander off course to visit Mumford Brewing and try one of their locally-made craft beers. The team at Mumford welcomes all CicLAvia participants and has a water fill station on-site as well as ample space to park your bike. Also, all day Sunday, CicLAvia participants can take advantage of 1$ off a full pour of any of Mumford’s beers. Mumford Brewing is located at 416 Boyd St., LA 90013 (just a couple of blocks west of 3rd/Central, where the CicLAvia route will be passing through). Kids are welcome at the brewery but must be supervised and with an adult at all times. Please drink responsibly!
Mumford Brewing is a Los Angeles-based, family owned and operated microbrewery. They focus on creating thoughtful and nuanced versions of the New American style of beers, along with a handful of Belgian influenced, seasonal and experimental ales. They have an on-site tap room where their current offerings are available for people to enjoy on-site as well as fill up in Mumford’s branded containers to-go. You can also find their beers on draft at select Los Angeles bars and restaurants.
Stop in and have a Black Mamba ale or an L.A. Crema while you take a break from the action.
And tell ‘em I sent you.
Just a few other CicLAvia related notes.
Time Out offers a guide to what to see along Sunday’s route; I had no idea Plan Check had opened a Downtown location.
The LA Daily News will be reporting live from the route on Snapchat.
Little Tokyo is planning to welcome CicLAvia participants.
If you need a pick-me-up, head to the 4th Street Bridge for some free cold brew coffee from the Wheelhouse.
And don’t forget to read, if not memorize, the Militant Angeleno’s Epic CicLAvia tour before you go.
Update: A few more late entries…
The LA Times looks at Sunday’s CicLAvia, and kind of misses the point; yes, it’s about a clean environment and good health, but more about returning the streets to the people, and seeing what our city could be.
LAist offers a little more information on what’s happening along the route, including Cirque du Soleil on Penny Farthings.
If you can’t make it up to LA for CicLAvia, you could try San Diego’s Bike for Boobs fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Fund.
Or ride on Saturday to protest the bizarre anti-bike lane insanity in Coronado.
Finally, if your bike happens to get locked inside some establishment following the festivities on Sunday, don’t bust out a window to get it back. And don’t bother with a massage afterwards.