By Sue Favor
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — The city’s popular car-free street event known as CicLAvia is coming to South L.A., giving residents a chance to use major roadways without traffic.
CicLAvia will open 5.3 miles of street on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to bicyclists, runners, walkers, skaters, wheelchairs and other non-motorists from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event has taken place in various communities across the city since 2010, as a way to promote civic engagement and park use.
The last CicLAvia to touch South Los Angeles came just before the pandemic started in February 2020 when crowds gathered along Central Avenue.
Arnetta Mack, communications director for the L.A. South Chamber of Commerce, said the organization is excited.
“The CicLAvia open streets event is a fantastic opportunity for residents to experience our neighborhoods up close and personal,” Mack said. “In our recently published South L.A. Destination Guide, we featured a section entitled, ‘how to get around,’ where we encouraged biking, walking and scooters in areas safe to do so. This event creates that safe space and a lot of fun.”
The route will extend on MLK Boulevard from Central Avenue west to Crenshaw Boulevard, where it will go north for three blocks and end at Exposition Blvd. The sponsoring organization, CicLAvia, said five times more people use the temporary open space on event days than are using all of the park space in the city limits. It is also a way to connect communities and the people that live in them.
Anyone can participate free of charge, and only “people-powered” vehicles are allowed, as electric scooters, skateboards, hoverboards, unicycles and motorcycles are prohibited. Complimentary masks will be available at points along the route, for those wanting to stop and head into a local business. There also will be free, drop-in vaccination clinics. “Pedi-cab” rides also will be available.
Attendees are encouraged to “Show up anywhere along the route at any time, and have fun!” – something that has been apparent in watching participants meet and interact along the route.
CicLAvia was inspired by Bogota, Columbia’s weekly “ciclovia,” which closes streets once a week to motorists. To date, more than 1.8 million have participated in the event in Los Angeles, making it the largest open street event in the U.S.
The route takes participants past many public works of art, the California African-American Museum, the Science Center, the soon-to-be Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the in-progress arts hub Destination Crenshaw, Leimert Park and countless small businesses and eateries.
Mack said she and other chamber members are looking forward to the weekend.
“The L.A. South Chamber will be participating in the event, and will be stationed at the Crenshaw Hub,” Mack said. “We’ll be distributing our destination guide, and providing more information about what the chamber is doing in South L.A.”
For more information, visit ciclavia.org.
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.