CicLAvia comes to South Los Angeles for first time

The Los Angeles County-based event CicLAvia will be coming to South Los Angeles for the first time on Dec. 7, and streets will be closed to motor vehicles, allowing the public to bike, walk, scooter and skate through open roads in an effort to promote alternative transportation culture.

Beach cruisers · Students in the USC Bike Coalition participated in a Venice Beach bike ride with students from UCLA during an event last year.  - Photo courtesy of Alex Leavitt

Beach cruisers · Students in the USC Bike Coalition participated in a Venice Beach bike ride with students from UCLA during an event last year. – Photo courtesy of Alex Leavitt

South LA CicLAvia routes will be divided into four “hubs” along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Central Avenue, connecting Leimert Park with Central Avenue. All hubs will offer merchandise, maps and information, free water, first-aid stations, restrooms and bike repair stations for minor repairs. Beginning at the northern end of the Central Avenue Hub, the route will continue into the Jazz Park, Exposition Park and Leimert Park hubs.

According to CicLAvia Communications Director Robert Gard, CicLAvia works closely with the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Deptartment and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to work out the logistics and ensure event safety. Major intersections will not be closed for the event, as each major intersection on the route will still offer crossing points for vehicles.

“We work very closely with the Los Angeles Metro and choose routes so that they are close to public transit lines to make the route easily accessible to people anywhere in L.A.,” Gard said. “[CicLAvia] teaches people that they can get around the city without the use of a car and that it’s possible to use alternative transportation, even in an urban setting.”

CicLAvia aims to connect the communities of South Los Angeles and “[catalyze] vibrant public spaces … to transform our relationship with our communities and with each other,” according to the event website. Because the route will include Exposition Park, students like Will Brotherson, a second-year student in the Gould School of Law and member of the USC Bike & Transit Law Society, will attend to support Los Angeles Critical Mass, a community bicycle ride that bills itself as the largest such event in the United States. Brotherson believes such critical mass events have the ability to influence policy and infrastructure.

“With all the public space we use, movements like LA Critical Mass and CicLAvia that encourage bike culture and improve transportation and bike infrastructure are a great way to give back to the community,” Brotherson said.

Brotherson believes events like CicLAvia prompt conversation and encourage bicycling as a fun and affordable mode of alternative transportation.

“CicLAvia and all these critical mass movements are expanding every year and becoming more and more mainstream,” Brotherson said. “A lot of people, especially in [Los Angeles], think you have to have a car, but these events are like the antidote to that mindset of car culture.”

The USC Bike Coalition has also been promoting CicLAvia, as the campus organization has participated in group rides from USC to Downtown in past CicLAvia events.

Alex Leavitt, the USC Bike Coalition’s communications coordinator, said the event is a great way to promote improvement of biking infrastructure around campus and in the greater L.A. area.

According to Leavitt, groups like the USC Bike Coalition embrace events like CicLAvia in the effort to support conversation and culture around various forms of bicycling in the hopes of making urban centers more receptive to alternative transportation.

“There have been recent calls by the city to help support infrastructural improvements for bikers and [it] just recently approved the MyFigueroa project, which would implement separated and safer bike lanes to and from campus and Downtown,” Leavitt said.