8 Simple Ways to Make CicLAvia Even More Awesome

CicLAvia Shot From srd515's Flickr Stream

I’ve added CicLAvia to my list of Favorite Things To Do in L.A. If you missed the first two, I suggest you get your bike/skates/shoes ready for the next one on 7/10/11.

Here are 8 Ways CicLAvia can be even better:

1. Longer hours. Make it an all day party. Something like 8-6, or later. Imagine enjoying a Southern California sunset with 150,000 of your closest friends.

2. Extend the route. Let’s get this thing into the heart of Hollywood, take it over Cahuenga, and into the Valley. Close off Ventura Boulevard. Shop owners might be surprised how much walk-up business they would get.

3. More destinations. Set up entertainment stages along the route. Schedule local bands and performance groups. Establish a food truck zone. Farmer’s Market. Arts & crafts vendors.

4. Better traffic mitigation. LAPD needs to learn that you cannot throw up your hand and shout for 100 cyclists to stop on a dime. Maybe smile a little. People on bikes are not necessarily criminals.

5. Eliminate some of the current street crossings, like Grand, Olive, and Broadway. If you’re Downtown, you should be on foot anyway. Close Broadway to traffic and include it as part of CicLAvia. Get Bringing Back Broadway involved. What better way to raise awareness of that initiative?

6. Encourage local restaurants to be open along the route. More curbside tables and booths along the way. Set up sidewalk dining.

7. Pave the route. Pave the route. Pave the entire route, right now.

8. Make this happen every Sunday. Permanently.

25 thoughts on “8 Simple Ways to Make CicLAvia Even More Awesome”

  1. As an addendum to #5 I’d like to add that street crossings should NEVER NEVER NEVER be at the bottom of hills. Please. They should be at the top. There is nothing more difficult (and more dangerous when surrounded by potentially unskilled riders) than gaining speed and momentum on a downhill only having to slam on your brakes at the last second because an officer decided that’s when a crossing should happen. Top of a hill is good because most people would enjoy a slight rest anyway.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Sean. In fact, the stops were my biggest gripe of the day. Officers at some of the stops seemed to be annoyed that this event was happening at all.

  2. I agree about the longer hours. I left at 2pm, one hour before the end, and people were still streaming into the route.

    I disagree about “destinations”. I like the spontaneous activities, but I think something like performance stages would make it more of a scheduled event. For me, the best part about ciclavia is the openness of it. By all means, I think it would be great for bands to set up and play along the route. I just don’t think that should be contained in one spot–“here is where you go for music.”

    I’m sure the cicLAvia folks would listen to your ideas…and I know what Joe would say–come aboard and lend your efforts!

    1. Good point, Evan. I like the openness of it, too. I guess I just wasn’t sure where anything would be. If I’m heading towards MacArthur Park from DTLA, did I just miss something that started in Boyle Heights? But, then again, that IS the fun of it. All hit or miss.

      One thing I should have added: It would be smart of the city to set up a few huge signs with maps of the new Bike Plan that just passed. In order for L.A. to become more bike and pedestrian friendly, you have to start with educating the public.

      “Coming Soon: The New L.A. Bike Network. 1,680 Miles of Freedom.”

  3. You know what REALLY GRINDS MY GEARS??

    I am SO upset that the only way i heard of this event is solely due to the fact that i’m involved in the Bicycle community of LA… I never once heard, read, or saw anything about CicLAvia anywhere besides from my friends who bike.


    Lets stop playing ‘Catch Up” to the other great cities and lets take LA in the direction it’s been needing to go for decades by bringing us ALL together more frequently and NOT in the casing of our metal cars and trucks. I can’t befriend you being stuck in a car.

    1. They did a CicLAvia story almost every day last week on NBC. So I disagree with your statement.

    2. Agree with Gregg–saw coverage on local news this past week. I don’t read the LA Times, so I don’t know if there was coverage in there or not.

      But really, Ciclavia is a small organization and they rely a lot on donations. The city isn’t ponying up all that much money, so I’m not sure who you want to be making ad buys.

  4. I missed the first CicLAvia due to unforseen events (okay, I was hungover), but Sunday’s event was, easily the most harmonious public event I’ve experienced in L.A. (as a native, Angeleno, that says a lot).

    In response to your suggestions:

    1/8. I’m also strongly in favor of this becoming an all-day weekly event. A city of our size, and so reliant on cars and oil, should lead the way when it comes to curbing our reliance on oil and integrating bicycle traffic into the overall traffic plan, not to mention the positive neighborhood vibes that can be generated by pulling down the ethnic borders that permeate our city–and which many of us prefer to ignore.

    2. Extending the route is a must if the event is going to survive. The route is fun as it is, but it needs to be a length the can attract both the novice rider and the pro who wants to get in a good workout. Also, it would be great if they could design the route as a rough loop that took in as many neighborhoods in the city as possible. Also, maybe they could alternate routes each week, to retain the freshness of the event for veteran participants. I’m not so sure about Cahuenga as a route into the valley, as it’s too steep for most beginning riders, and inclusiveness should remain a central tenet of CicLAvia.

    3. I was generally pleased with the organization of the entertainment–from the funk band playing off MacArthur Park to the avant-garde string ensemble playing on New Hampshire. And there certainly was no lack of food stalls/ trucks to choose from.

    4. I thought the cops would have been happy to be out of their patrol cars on a wonderful Sunday afternoon, but a few did seem to treat the event as more of a protest-control exercise than a chance to project a more public-friendly image. I chalk this up to the bad apples who marred the Critical Mass rides over time. What I’d hate would be for this event to head down that route. But I agree that keeping the event light and friendly is a two-way street, with both police and riders treating each other with respect and courtesy.

    5. Yes, yes, YES! Broadway could easily be the marquee stretch of road for this event, and the image of thousands of riders packing it up under a crisp blue L.A. sky could say more than words what the positive impact of opening the streets to bicycles can do for our city, and others.

    7. I didn’t have too many problems with the road quality, but it would be nice to repave the route (possibly a blue color and with the cicLAvia logo at regular intervals?)

    In short, I can’t wait to see what the future hold for this event, especially as the new City Bicycle Plan comes into its own.

  5. Was there a lot of just foot (non-bike) traffic. I’d wanted to check out the event, but ended up with other plans. Admittedly, being a non-biker, I’m also a little intimidated.

    1. That’s the funny thing, Jodi. I was expecting a lot of runners and walkers. But, they were clearly outnumbered by bikes. This just goes to show how starved L.A. is for a decent place to ride. Hopefully, as we start adding more bike lanes and paths, it won’t be as much a novelty.

      1. I’m wondering also if it was mostly promoted among cyclists as Richie pointed out? Not too many of my non-cyclist friends seemed to know about it either.

        1. As one of the folks who helped promote it, I think that we promoted as broadly as we could (KABC TV, etc.) but that the event appeals to cyclist. When I tell a cyclist “7 miles, no cars” they say “cool, I’m there.” When I tell a pedestrian, etc. the same thing, they don’t respond as favorably.

      2. I saw lots of joggers and walkers. More than I noticed in October.

        Also, it was awesome seeing so many little kids out on their bikes and trikes. Can’t wait til my daughter is comfortable enough on wheels so she can join me!

  6. Thanks for the suggestions. I hope I don’t sound too defensive, but most of these sound not-so-simple to me… mostly in the sense that they’re expensive. They are a lot of things that I’d like to see, but we can’t run before we walk… we’ll get there over time. If you want to see CicLAvia more often and longer… please go to ciclavia.org and donate today. If you want to host a fundraiser, or to sponsor, that would be great too.

    1. Longer hours. Five hours, plus set-up, plus take-down can be done in a single 8-hour city employee shift. Longer, which, I’d love to do, will significantly increase city costs, necessitating mutliple shifts. I think we’ll get there some day… but it’s expensive.

    2. Extend the route. It took us 2 years to organize the initial route, and there’s a 4-month lead time for event permitting at the city. It’s also expensive, with more closures, more law enforcement, etc. Nonetheless, we’re planning to extend the route in October – with about 6 additional miles into South L.A., and we’re also working in Boyle Heights and Chinatown to plan extensions there.

    3. More destinations. There were four food truck zones, but frankly there are hundreds of great restaurants along the route, too. We encouraged musicians, etc. and I saw over a dozen performances along the route yesterday. I personally think that 7-miles of streets full of all kinds of people is a great destination. One of the “problems” is that it’s so fun to hang out in the street, so folks hosting destination activities don’t get huge crowds. Nonetheless, I think that folks who want to host “destinations” will continue to do so, and they’ll continue to grow.

    4. Better traffic mitigation. This is the second event, and each time it’s been more popular than organizers expected. We’re still working out exactly how these crossings can work best. Give us suggestions. Say “Thanks” to the law enforcement folks and they smile back!

    5. Eliminate some of the current street crossings, like Grand, Olive, and Broadway. I’d like to do this (and we’re hoping to eliminate one of these), but frankly we need to balance with things like bus service, access to parking, etc…. It’s a negotiation with city, Metro, businesses, residents, etc. Defiitely not simple. Our goal is to have a great CicLAvia and not be way too disruptive to non-CicLAvia participants at the same time. It’s a balance. If we shut down the rest of the city to make CicLAvia a little better, then we risk courting a big backlash. Nonetheless, I agree that fewer crossings would make for a better event.

    6. Encourage local restaurants to be open along the route. I think that this was/is happening a lot – We did a lot of encouragement, but we can’t get folks to open who don’t want to open – see our encouragement flier here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6324617/ciclavia_bizoutreach_030111_F.pdf I think it’s working – at 10.10.10 there were a handful of businesses reaching out to participants. at 4.10.11 I think that there were dozens doing it.

    7. Pave the route. CicLAvia worked with the city to fix hundreds of potholes in advance of 10.10.10 and 4.10.11. I think that the route was significantly better yesterday than it was 2 weeks ago – there were post-rain craters. Nonetheless, I’d love it if the city would resurface the whole thing… but again it’s not cheap.

    8. Make this happen every Sunday. I would love it… Bogota loves it. How do you want to pay for it?

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Joe.

      At the very least, I would say a lot more people are excited about the idea now that they know it exists. The more often CicLAvia takes place, the more people will know about it. Some of these suggestions will probably come to fruition over time. It’s hard to not want to jump ahead!

      Again, thank you and all the folks at CicLAvia for a great event. Here’s to many more!

  7. Me encanto el Cilcavia, I saw a bunch of Facebook activity and vids on it – had the fam go out – so much fun! todos los domingos!

  8. The riders definitely had a visible sense of contempt for me as I was trying to walk across the street with my groceries after having to park 2 blocks away to facilitate their afternoon of fun. Getting run over by some hipster on a unicycle in an explosion of groceries isn’t my idea of a good Sunday.

    1. Sorry to hear Jeff’s bad experience seemed to have left him as contemptuous of the event as he felt the cyclists encountered were of him I personally went out of my way to accommodate any jaywalkers.

  9. There were upwards of nearly 200,000 participants in this past CicLAvia, and only 7.5 miles of road for them to utilize. The issue I saw, and had, was the pedestrian to bike ratio, and the friction that sometimes occurred. There were 90% bicycles and about 10% joggers and walkers. The walkers were all over the street and so were the bicyclists. I believe the larger crowd and the short length of the route was a recipe for disaster. Thankfully nothing major happened, but we got lucky. There should be a designated walk way, maybe using cones or another type of barrier. I want walkers and joggers to come out, but the bicycle traffic got really thick at times which endangered pedestrians. Walkers and joggers should be given a bike-free zone, maybe the right side of the road. Then slower bike traffic, people with kids, should be given the right side of the bicycle lanes. Similar to how they have bike paths in the valley. There is a designated walkway for joggers and pedestrians and a designated bikeway for bicyclists. This would make the event safer and still encourage people to come out, regardless of their mode of human-powered transportation.

  10. I loved the ride, and circled around more than once. The one thing I would have liked is some emphasis on helmet use. I know everyone was just out to have fun, but there were multiple kids without helmets and I didn’t hear cops even mentioning the under-18 mandatory law, much less enforcing it. I saw one classic scene – dad on the front of the bike, no helmet, and 4-year old daughter in a safety seat behind, with a helmet not on her head but instead hanging off the edge of the seat. One pothole, a crash, and both lives change instantly. Riding on a sunny day does not prevent traumatic brain injury.

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