Bikers, skateboarders and pedestrians zoomed and meandered down Wilshire Blvd. Sunday, the first CicLAvia event through the city's art deco center.
Leonardo Terrobias was one of many who stopped to snap pictures of the street's iconic architecture as he biked his way up Wilshire.
"A friend told me there was an event with no cars, no traffic, just people, and I had to come," Terrobias said.
Angela Cheng Caplan, attending with her husband and three kids, said she learned about CicLAvia when the event rolled through her Palms-Mar Vista neighborhood earlier this year. The family made the trek to Koreatown to give their kids the opportunity to bike through the city streets.
"We were just talking about how connected we feel to the city," Cheng Caplan said. "Usually, we don't, because we're driving."
That sort of community-building is at the core of CicLAvia's mission, said executive director Aaron Paley.
"The lesson is simplicity," Paley said. "Here's a very simple way to create open space and to create a park."
Paley said people usually think of CicLAvia as a bike event, but it's actually about public space. This particular CicLAvia was particularly designed to attract more foot traffic. Event organizers handed out booklets explaining the history of some of Wilshire Blvd.'s more prominent buildings. And pedestrian-only zones with activities such as Pilates bookended the route.
The idea for CicLAvia originated as "Ciclovia" in Bogota, Colombia — a city with a similar tissue as L.A., Paley said — and has spread throughout Latin America, with many cities holding weekly street closures to cheaply accommodate the urban need for outdoor space.
Now, other cities in the U.S. are looking to Los Angeles, arguably the car capital of the country, for guidance on pedestrian-friendly events.
"We have become probably the most transformative open streets, car-free event in the United States," Paley said. "Every time we do it, we get calls from other cities saying, 'You did that in L.A.? Then we should be able to it here.'"
Among those looking to get their own versions of the event up and running soon, Paley said, are San Diego, Baltimore, and Riverside.