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CicLAvia rolls back into Los Angeles

ciclavia in los angeles

It’s not a race, and it’s not a bicycle-only event. That, in brief, is what Brad Rehak wants Angelenos to know about the second CicLAvia, which will free 7.5 miles of L.A. streets from cars on next Sunday — opening up the roads for cyclists, walkers, and dodgeball players alike.

“It’s an open platform for individuals to come out and recreate as they want,” says Rehak, CicLAvia’s spokesperson. “Last year it was perceived as a bike event … but there’s no beginning, there’s no end. Individuals can come to participate at any point in the route.”

Since its inaugural event last October, which attracted an estimated 100,000 Angelenos including L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa himself, CicLAvia has gotten bigger and bolder — though the course, stretching from Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights to the Bicycle District in East Hollywood, will remain the same for this second event. Many more local groups and companies have signed on — and more Angelenos are expected to show up for the day of outdoor play.

What’s the purpose of CicLAvia? The event has four “pillars,” according to Rehak: Promoting alternative transportation, improving public health, creating public space, and fostering small business development. In fact, many of the businesses along the CicLAvia route plan to open early for business on this Sunday. “We want the folks to make money,” says Rehak.

Checking out the whole route’s a breeze on a bike, but pedestrians can get a more up close look at the many different neighborhoods along the route. “It’s the perfect ways to see a rejuvenated downtown on a Sunday,” says Rehak, who recommends starting your jaunt around 7th and Figueroa, walking east on 7th St. and up Spring St., where many businesses will have special longer hours and deals to welcome CicLAvia participants. “The next thing you know, you’re at City Hall already — then in the middle of little Tokyo…. And you just kind of get caught up in the event itself.”

Even cyclists will want to hop off their rides often — to watch soccer players in McArthur Park, play pop-up dodgeball in downtown LA, and join a book club discussion over the 110 freeway. Many groups are planning ancillary events along the route — so expect surprises as you travel along.

Will the CicLAvia route change for future events? Rehak says that this year’s events will likely retain the original route as its central location — though the July 10 event may loop into Chinatown and the October 9 event drop down to incorporate USC. “Looking into the next calendar year, [CicLAvia organizers] have looked at and had meetings with groups down in Watts, maybe extending the route … down to Watts Towers,” says Rehak. There are also “preliminary talks” about bringing CicLAvia to the westside.

In the meantime, enjoy CicLAvia from Boyle Heights to Hollywood — and think outside the car for a day. “It’s not a road closure but a street opening,” says Rehak. See you on the streets on Sunday, April 10 from 10 am to 3 pm!

Some helpful links to help you enjoy CicLAvia:

Photo: The inaugural CicLAvia on Oct. 10, 2010 (Gary Leonard)