What, no photos of CicLAvia?
Nope, not a one. The event is so popular and so well-documented four years on that I felt I could attend as a civilian, as it were, for the sheer joy of it. CicLAvia has plenty of momentum now, and even the city’s often thick-witted officialdom seems to understand that it brings nothing but benefits, and plenty of them, at a very minor cost in automotive convenience for a very few people.
My favorite illustration of that is at the car crossings, where what at first looked like a vast crowd of cars represented, if you did a quick count, maybe fifteen or twenty people waiting to cross the route. Whereas, when traffic officers blocked the way to let those motorists through, they held back the progress of several hundred people on bikes and on foot.
Health, pleasure, and booming business followed the happy hordes as they pedaled, skated, strolled, or ran along Wilshire—while the unliberated streets of the city just saw the usual parade of speeding, honking cars eternally headed somewhere, or perhaps nowhere, else.
So rather than riding with my attention focussed on finding photo ops, I just rode, under a shining spring morning, along a route that I ride often but on which I am usually on red alert, scanning traffic in all directions for the inevitable clueless fool who might take me out of this magnificent world.
We started off with our “feeder ride,” possibly the shortest one ever scheduled for a CicLAvia: three hundred feet from our driveway to the corner, since we in fact live in the Miracle Mile. I was nominal leader, with Gina on my wing, and our downstairs neighbor Ali on one of our Bromptons following after. Scooting left to the marquee of the El Rey theater, we picked up another rider and headed east.
I indulged the wishes of our entourage and pointed out the spectacular architecture along the way—the area hosts a number of Art Deco buildings, as well as some significant though less-appealing Modernist and International Style edifices, plus a good bit of vernacular architecture. Of course there was MacArthur Park, looking a bit fresher after a refurb, and Lafayette Park, and the towers of Downtown, the stunning sanctuary of Wilshire Boulevard Temple (which was open to all), and, back at home, Hancock Park with its Tar Pits and (of course) LACMA. That area was crowded with erstwhile cyclists lazing on the grass. Pigeon Master Josef was there on his bakfiets, with kid Valentina in the box and wife Susan on a cruiser, as well as Jimmy Z and his kid in his own bakfiets…while up on the mound housing the Page Museum, Wolfpack Hustle’s Don Ward, aka “Roadblock,” led an advocacy meeting with Silver Lake and Atwater residents discussing the Glendale/Hyperion bridge.
The sun shone, the breeze blew, happy people laughed out of sheer delight, and the noise and stink of car culture were held at bay for a few brilliant hours.
Two more CicLAvias to go this year, with the hope of more in future years.
Who knows? Maybe someday, perhaps, we’ll catch up to Bogotá, Colombia, where it all started forty years ago. That city liberates seventy-five miles of streets for its ciclovías—and does it every week.