Out with the cars. In with the cyclists, pedestrians, and picnickers. It’s something CicLAvia started doing on an occasional weekend morning on LA streets a few years ago.
Now, it’s received a grant from Los Angeles County Metro to expand Open Streets events, like CicLAvia, to East LA, Pasadena, Southeast Cities, Culver City and the San Fernando Valley through 2016.
“It puts Los Angeles and Los Angeles County at the forefront of this movement in the United States,” said Aaron Paley, Executive Director and co-founder of the non-profit CicLAvia.
The grant will fund Metro’s Open Streets Program. CicLAvia has been the program’s most successful event, attracting more than 100,000 participants every year since its start in 2010.
And an event of this magnitude can mean heavy costs. According to Paley, it can cost up to a half-million dollars for each CicLAvia.
“Los Angeles was the only city of the 88 cities in LA County that had the resources to put up its own funds to support the city services necessary for this kind of event,” Paley said. “There are now going to be many kinds of open streets events in LA County, not all of them under the CicLAvia rubric.”
Cities are responsible for putting up the logistical funds for closing down streets and adding police patrol throughout the routes. Non-profits shoulder costs for planning and marketing.
“It’s a natural alliance,” said Alek Bartrosouf, policy and campaign manager for the LA County Bicycle Coalition.
Bartrosouf says rail infrastructure shows the public they don’t need a car to get around. He hopes this could influence policy of creating more bike lanes in car-choked areas like West LA and the Valley.
Bartrosouf cites Lankershim Boulevard as an example.
“There are two red line stations in Universal City and North Hollywood, so people already see access not done by car,” he said. “They can rethink how they get around.”
It's a partnership that also plays into Metro's advantage.
“These events not only encourage walking and biking, but they also serve as an opportunity for many to use the Metro system for the first time,” said Metro’s planning and programming committee in a 2013 report.
The Open Streets Programs will also provide funds for activities like fitness classes, cultural performances and pedestrian zones that will encourage residents to get out of their car.
The next event is in October in East LA. Pasadena, San Fernando Valley, Culver City and Southeast Cities will have their first CicLAvia events within the next two years.