AirTalk for April 22, 2013

CicLAvia swarms LA’s streets

Tony Pierce/KPCC

Cyclists took to the streets for CicLAvia on Sunday, April 21, 2012.

Yesterday, tens of thousands of Angelinos abandoned their cars, pumped up the tires of their bikes, and rode en mass the fifteen miles from Chinatown to Venice Beach as part of CicLAvia, which was inspired by Ciclovia, Bogota, Colombia’s cycling festival which doubles as a peaceful protest against the oppressive traffic of the city.

The city blocked the streets so bike traffic would rule the day, and riders gathered near Venice Beach to celebrate a day without gasoline motors.

Did you participate in CicLAvia? Were you caught in traffic related to the celebration of cycling? Do you think this could be a long-lasting tradition for Los Angeles?

Interview Highlights:

On what he thought was most impressive about the day:
"I think the sheer turnout was incredible, I don't think in my wildest dreams think there would there would be a sea of people non-stop for fifteen miles between downtown and venice which is what I exeperienced first hand. That incredible outpouring of support and the excitement that people really have for this idea is really the highlight for me."

On what he learned from Sunday's CicLAvia:
"I think what we learned is that CicLAvia is growing even more quickly than we even could have ever hoped in our wildest dreams. The turnout increased substantially from last October in a much greater fashion and much more quickly so that the one issue we're dealing with is our own success. We're attracting hundreds of thousands of people and we need to actually acomated them, and so when we're making our plans for the future we're going to be thinking about that and thinking about even larger crowds and how we can accommodate them in a way that's just as fun."

On how many people turned out:
"We have been thinking about it, we have on our board a traffic engineer who was doing some calculations and one of the difficult things is you can do a shot of the route at any one point and count it at that time but there are actually five or six hours of usage and so you have to estimate over, that so we're putting it at around 180,000."

On what's planned for the future:
"The basic premise for CicLAvia is that we are going to have a new and different route for each month of the year with a different neighborhood.  So April will be the month that connects downtown to Venice, and June will be the month that allows us to go on Wilshire Boulevard from Grand Avenue in downtown to Fairfax. October will be coming back to out "Heart of LA" route the rout that goes through Downtown LA and connects it with China Town Exposition Park Echo Park and Boyle heights."

"From the neighborhoods perspective CicLAvia would like to be able to tell them, this is gonna happen once a year, you should plan for it, every year so take that into consideration. So that's one aspect, and from the positive side we want to make sure that every part of Los Angeles gets to see how CicLAvia can transform it. I was talking to the people representing Olympic Park and Mid City Culver City Palms, Mar Vista and all of them were saying to me how thankful they were that CicLAvia was coming through their neighborhoods, and helping introduce their neighborhoods to all these other Angelenos who perhaps did not know about them."

On if there is a more effective way of handling the crowds:
"Where the route go very crowded was on Venice boulevard where it became a divided highway. So between Crenshaw and Venice it as an 8 mile divided highway, we were asked to only use half of the of the divided highway, we were on the northbound side sharing that hald and the southbound side still had car traffic on it.

"In addition to only having half the street, there was Expo Line construction and a whole bunch of other different utilities construction going on, so at some points we only had one lane, so there were there a lot of things that have to do with the particular route on this particular day that won't be happening again. If we do this route again next year I want to take all of Venice, I don't want to just have half of it. There are actually so many more people out there on their bikes and and on foot,  then there even are in their cars we can tip sthe scale and say that this event  can have more precedent over the car traffic."

On how to educate and inform people about proper cycling:
"What is important to note is that we are changing the cultutre of Los Angeles as we speak. We're introducing hundreds of thousands of people to the idea of how to use this city without their car. You know it took us a century how to use the car in this city, so now we're introducing a whole new way of thinking about this city, and yes there's going to be a learning curve, and yes one of the things everybody is going to need to do is deal with education at all these levels.

"What we're doing is we're starting the conversation, and from this I think we'll see policy changes, changes in resources prioritization and allocation, and things are going to start changing on lots of different levels, we're excited that we're changing the conversation and we think that we've actually gotten to a tipping point with LA,  where we're tipping away from thinking of us as a single passenger automobile city, to thinking this is a great city without cars, how can we make it work?"

Guest:
Aaron Paley, executive director of CicLavia


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