CicLAvia’s most ambitious effort yet–the “CicLAvia to the Sea,” rambling from La Plaza in the heart of Downtown all the way down Venice Boulevard to the beach, was in most ways a huge success.
In fact, the ways in which it failed were directly related to that success—and failing to plan for it.
There were too many participants, and not enough road. LA’s bicyclists had to endure traffic jams as daunting as anything motorists conjure up on the 60 or 405.
Now, to be sure, most people didn’t seem to mind. In the midst of the deepest crushes, I still saw nothing but happy faces. People were so happy to be outside and together, in a city whose structural mandate force most of them to be enclosed and alone in their cars most of the time, that they didn’t mind. Just to be together with neighbors under a perfect sky was cause for celebration, and the party atmosphere prevailed.
But it could have been better.
Some suggestions for next time:
- If the event uses Venice Boulevard again—and the choice proved wildly popular, drawing the biggest crowd yet—take both sides of the street! Venice doesn’t get that much motor traffic on Sundays, and there are other ways to travel east or west for motorists, including a very large freeway. Why cram tens of thousands of bikes into one side of the roadway to make room for a few dozen cars on the other?
- Close the freeway offramp by the Kaiser complex. Again, 800 to 1000 cyclists were jammed up where the offramp feeds into Cadillac Avenue, while traffic control officers let eight or ten cars go by at short intervals. There is another offramp at Washington two blocks away which can easily handle Sunday motor traffic.
- For all Downtown routes, consider using 7th and 8th streets and Spring and Main as one-way couplets where necessary, splitting the bike traffic to ease the flow.
- Reduce the number of car crossings. Again and again, hundreds of riders were backed up to let ten or fifteen motorists through. This is not sophisticated traffic management. Cars take up a lot of room but don’t move many people; let the more efficient mode go through first. It’s the cyclists who are bringing business in on what’s an otherwise dead day for most establishments along the route.
Despite the repeated traffic jams, it was a successful day. Once again, Los Angeles has shown that, given the chance, it will opt for conviviality over confinement, for involvement over isolation, and for the bicycle over the car, whenever we dare to let it happen.
Despite the problems, CicLAvia was, once again, LA’s happiest day!