CicLAvia Westisde 2015


CicLAvia “started as a grassroots initiative in 2008 as the outgrowth of discussions held by a number of individuals who recognized that open streets events could address active transportation, urban land use and public health needs in Los Angeles.” They also describe themselves as a group that “catalyzes vibrant public spaces, active transportation and good health through car-free streets.” What this translates into is periodically CicLAvia closes off car access to certain key neighborhoods throughout LA: Downtown, Pasadena, the Valley, and most recently, the “Westside”. CicLAvia closed down a substantial stretch of Venice Blvd, from downtown Culver City all the way to the beach, ending in Windward Circle in Venice.


Unfortunately, transportation by bicycle isn’t very practical in LA: the distances are far, theres no rail system (yet), the weather is extremely hot, and the traffic particularly intense. In light of these facts, it is good to see an organization that aims to counter this hindrances to the bicycle lifestyle.


What other organization you know of aims to reduce carbon emissions, improve and promote health, and stimulate the local economy? Im sure there’s quite a few that do this actually, but the cool thing about CicLAvia is that it accomplishes these noble and lofty goals simply by getting people to ride their bicycles.


My particular trip started in Mar Vista, which is my neighborhood. Sunday just happens to be when Mar Vista has its famous Farmers Market, and the CicLAvia course ran right though it. With CicLAvia happening, the normally sleepy open air market turned into a carnival. It was a pedestrian only zone, slowing the pace down a bit and making it a good place to get off your bike, find some shade and get something to eat and drink.



I hadn’t ridden my mountain bike in months, and the tire in back was extremely low. Thankfully the local Mar Vista Bike Co-op bikerowave had their tent up and running, repairing bikes for free! All I needed was a bicycle pump, but people were getting brake jobs, spokes repaired, tires aligned, you name it. This place was very impressive, and right on Venice Blvd.


After the Farmers Market I joined the masses careening down Venice Blvd. on our bicycles. I’ve done numerous “critical mass” or “bike gatherings” before, but this by far was the largest. By the time I got to Lincoln and Venice, the surreal nature of the event kicked in. One of the busiest intersections, if not the busiest, intersection in LA was being completely taken over by bicyclists. This was a moment that I felt was more than worthy of capturing.




In a city that famously let it’s rail car system be bought by Firestone tires and shutdown, it is pleasingly ironic to see the City taking an active role in public transportation. In fact the old rail lines are being reinstalled as I type this, and soon it may be practical to use a bicycle to traverse the city because there will be a public transportation system that supports it.


CicLAvia drew an incredible number of cyclists out on the streets. In fact I noted several times how it felt just like LA traffic, with the sheer number of people involved. The irony that there is still traffic even when people ride their bikes is easily countered by the fact that there are this many people who are interested in getting outdoors and living a more active lifestyle. Hopefully with continued popularity we will see more and more of this cool events, whether there is traffic or not!



Next up on the event schedule for CiclAvia is going to be on October 18th, in downtown LA, or “the Heart of LA. Heart of LA will have six miles for participants to explore by bike, foot, skateboard, wheelchair and other non-motorized traffic. The route will take people through Boyle Heights, the Arts District, Little Tokyo, Civic Center, Chinatown, Historic Core and as far west as Macarthur Park.” This marks the 5th year anniversary of this program, and I look forward to participating with the masses and getting out and exploring this historic city at the pace of a cruisey bike ride.