CicLAvia—Spring 2012—What’s It All About?
CicLAvia. In the months and weeks leading up to this event, I took the opportunity to mention it to many friends. Some were bikers and some were not. Some knew about it and others didn’t. As we discussed the possibilities, different ideas about it were tossed around. Most people thought it was a good idea and wanted to know more. One person had a question I couldn’t seem to answer to their (or my own) satisfaction.
“What’s it all about?” I went on to explain how ten miles of downtown city streets are closed to cars for the public to use as they wanted. How it would be fun to take over the roads and cycle, skate and walk with no worries of interference. How we could pedal about at our chosen speed and relax. “Nice”, they said, “But what’s it all about?”
So onto the talk of clean air and saving natural resources. How we need a break from things that harm our world and show that you can get around without oversized machines. That things could be a lot safer and more comfortable in the big city if we use better and cleaner types of transportation. How personal travel could be smarter with bikes, skates, and walking. “Makes sense, but what’s it all about?”, seemed to be the theme of the conservation.
“You get to see the city in a whole new light”, I countered. At a slow pace and the ability to stop where you please, you can see this great old town in ways that you seldom do. There will be booths, food, and all kinds of exciting things going on during the day. This being the 4th CicLAvia, many great activities will be in full swing as the roads get closed down. Yet that burning question—”What’s it all about?”
So as we packed our two folding E-bikes in the wagon and started the 2 hour trek to Los Angeles, I was determined to find out for myself. There is an answer and it will be mine, was my internal goal. We arrived a half hour before the scheduled start and parked easily (and for free I might add). A short ride got us to the center of town. The roads were empty except for a few bikers, police and the volunteer personal who were setting things up.
As the day continued, the streets started to fill with more and more people. I was starting to get a clue. With up to 100,000 people expected, the paper claimed the next day that they all showed up. We noticed bikes of every description. Booths with free bike goodies were all over. A bike polo arena was being assembled in a parking lot. Skaters pushing baby carriages were spotted. The smells of good food and the sounds of exciting music were noted at every turn of the road.
We rode to the far east end of the route, on the bridge over the rail yards to Hollenbeck Park. This was one of the five ’Hubs’ of the ride. More and more people were showing up every minute. Many had used public transportation to get there. Lots just made the ride from their own neighborhoods. People were smiling and some were shouting with joy. Costumes were seen on some of the participants. People were having fun.
That’s when it finally hit me. This event is all about people. Not streets or bikes—people! As we rode back towards the center of the blocked areas, the crowds swelled. The excitement was contagious. Bikes were everywhere. Regular bikes, tall bikes, custom cruiser bikes, decorated bikes, all kinds of bikes. And yes, each bike had at least one person riding it. People, people having fun, people enjoying their day, people enjoying each other. Young people, old people, people of every description and age were there and happy. That’s what CicLAvia is all about.
And Barbara and I were amongst them. We were having the best time. Riding through town, seeing the sights, enjoying the food, riding our bikes. For lunch we had planned to meet-up with the ’Small Wheels Group LA’ a Facebook organized bunch of bikers. Gathering by City Hall, we got a chance to meet people I had conversed with online, but never met in person. They all loved my E-Brompton and got a chance to see Barbara’s new Richen Warrior 20 E-bike. Many of them had Bromptons or classic folding bikes.
As a group we rode to Little Tokyo for some sit-down time to eat. Yes, meeting new people was one of the themes of the day. And meet new people we did. It was a great atmosphere for that. Lots of liked-minded people in one big place. That is what CicLAvia is all about. I was loving this event more with every passing minute.
This type of event started in Columbia years ago. Many countries and cities have embraced it well. I can see now what the attraction is. The Mayor of Los Angeles was smart to bring it to this big city. It is just a five-hour event for now, but I can see it growing to much more. I heard talk of extending the route to meet the coastline. I heard talk of making it a two-day event. I heard no talk of ending or reducing it. This kind of thing is here to stay and I would love to find that every city world-wide would host their own version.
So, I will do my best to attend and promote CicLAvia. I would hope you do the same. The people loved it and I am sure to return with each scheduled date they plan. For now, it seems that it will happen here twice a year. More often? That would be nice and some feed-back to our leaders could bring it about. I am hoping the word will be spread here in San Diego and brought to life.
Go CicLAvia, Go people, Turbo Bob.
“To the bicycle tourer, one minute’s realism is worth an hour’s imaginings, preparatory to the event.”—James E. Starrs, The Noiseless Tenor.
Check Wikipedia for more info on CicLAvia
See the CicLAvia Facebook page for videos and updates
Plan on going to the next CicLAvia and / or organizing one in your town