By Darlene Donloe
LOS ANGELES — In a city known for its traffic, getting Angelenos out of their cars is said to be an exercise in futility.
That won’t be the case Dec. 3 when thousands literally take to the streets from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., for CicLAvia – South LA, a six-mile route of open streets traversing Leimert Park and historic South Central.
CicLAvia temporarily closes streets to car traffic and opens them to Angelenos to use as a public park.
Free for all, CicLAvia connects communities to each other across an expansive city, creating a safe place to bike, walk, skate, roll and dance through city streets normally filled with cars and other motor vehicles.
CicLAvia has previously navigated across Arleta, Boyle Heights, Chinatown, Culver City, East L.A., Echo Park, Hollywood, Koreatown, Historic Downtown, Little Tokyo, MacArthur Park, Mar Vista, Pacoima, Panorama City, Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley, Southeast cities, South L.A., Thai Town, Venice, West Hollywood, Wilshire Boulevard and more.
Participants represent 80% of the population of Los Angeles County.
Tafarai Bayne, the chief strategist for CicLAvia said it’s easy to understand why the event is so popular.
“Angelenos are wired for this,” he said. “When you drive, you’re in a bubble. You can’t explore. When you’re out, your senses emerge. You get to talk to people.
“To be outdoors and people-watching, L.A. loves to gather. We’re expecting somewhere between 10,000-30,0000 participants this time. CicLAvia is an L.A. kind of thing.”
Bayne, 41, has extensive experience in strategic planning and communications, promotion and outreach, constituency building, stakeholder education, project management, program development, marketing and event production. He has worked on urban development and planning issues for 20 years with an emphasis on the dynamics impacting working-class communities.
He also consults as a strategic advisor with Destination Crenshaw and as an event producer for Community Coalition. In 2020, he was appointed to the city of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Commission, following a stint on the city’s Transportation Commission.
“I’m here to help guide the growth,” Bayne said. “Some areas of the city don’t seem to be respected in terms of their culture. Now, with CicLAvia, we can put it all on display. We need to showcase all parts of the city. Make each one a tourist attraction.”
With motorized transportation banned from the event, participants are able to join on any part of the course whether they choose to bike, jog, skate, run, walk, skateboard or just watch from the sidelines.
No electric scooters, electric skateboards, hoverboards, electric unicycles, motorcycles or other non-people-powered vehicles are allowed at CicLAvia.
Class 1 e-bike pedal assist is allowed. Class 2 e-bikes are allowed when the throttle is powered off.
Class 3 e-bikes are allowed when pedal-assist is powered off. Motorized wheelchairs also are allowed.
The route includes Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Central Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. At Central Avenue the route extends north to Washington Boulevard. At Crenshaw, the route extends south to Leimert Park.
There are five hubs along the route. Hubs are walking zones (mandatory bike dismounts) and meeting points along the route with the Leimert Park Hub located on Crenshaw just north of Vernon Avenue; the King Estates Hub is located on MLK Boulevard at St. Andrews Place; the Exposition Park Hub located on MLK Boulevard at Bill Robertson Lane; the MLK Hub located at MLK Bouelvard just east of Avalon Boulevard; and the Historic South Central Hub located on Central Avenue just south of Washington Boulevard.
Hubs offer family-friendly activities, restrooms, free water refilling stations, free basic bike repair, bike parking and first aid. Free pedicab rides, sponsored by AARP, are available at each information booth.
The 49th overall CicLAvia car-free event in the last 13 years is presented by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It’s open to all ages and abilities.
“As we end our 2023 season, we are thrilled to return to South L.A. for the second time this year,.” said Romel Pascual, CicLAvia executive director. “There’s always something remarkably special when our streets are filled with connection and joy. Our individual experiences become a collective experience. We are grateful for the partnerships with the South L.A. community.”
Bayne, a Los Angeles native, has participated in each one of the events since 2010.
“I was struck by it, said Bayne, who, as a kid, was hit by a car while riding his bike. “I was inspired to attend. At first, I approached it as a pesky activist. Removing the cars struck me as a powerful thing. I was watching people smile. Watching a rich guy in spandex on an inexpensive bike talking to a young Black kid is something.”
Bayne, who used to ride his bike every day when he was younger, said after the first event, he approached the organization about coming on board.
“I was already doing community organizing,” he said. “Growing up in Los Angeles, I have experience in the streets. It’s a different kind of experience being in the streets with no cars.”
Bayne, who bikes to work, said the first CicLAvia in South Los Angeles happened in 2014. There have been several more over the years.
CicLAvia has been temporarily closing streets to car traffic and opening them as public parks in Los Angeles since 2010.
Now, with more than 280 miles of open streets, these beloved, always free-to-attend events are a celebration of L.A.’s diverse and vibrant communities.
The event is designed to connect Angelenos to the neighborhoods where residents live, work, shop, learn and play. Over the past 13 years, CicLAvia has helped communities re-imagine a greener and cleaner Los Angeles, while also promoting equitable transportation options, healthier lifestyles, and closer connections to the community.
CicLAvia is a nonprofit organization committed to introducing Angelenos to the vibrant civic and cultural treasures throughout Los Angeles. It schedules events throughout the city and throughout the year, often highlighting important issues to all Angelenos — from environmental health and air quality improvement to access to safe and open parks and physical and mental well-being.
Over the years, it has captured the imagination of more than 1.8 million people who have traveled together along more than 288 miles of streets. CicLAvia, which rotates through council districts, connects culturally diverse neighborhoods and neighbors to each other through open streets.
Whether one walks, strolls, skates, jogs, scooters, or bikes, CicLAvia creates so many incredible moments and experiences enjoying the city streets together.
CicLAvia, inspired by the ciclovía events that started 45 years ago in Bogotá, Colombia, started as a grassroots initiative in 2008 as the outgrowth of discussions held by a number of individuals who recognized that open streets events could address active transportation, urban land use, and public health needs in Los Angeles. The first CicLAvia was held Oct. 10, 2010.
“I’ve attended every one of the events,” Bayne said. “It’s one of my favorite things to do.”
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.