Photos: Thousands take to South LA streets for CicLAvia 2014

From Leimert Park to Central Avenue last Sunday, bikers took over Martin Luther King Boulevard, enjoying the mild weather, live music and food from local businesses. Check out our snapshots of the day:

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Bikers at the last CicLAvia event.

Bikers at the last CicLAvia event.

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CicLAvia extends route to South LA

The city’s 6th CicLAvia, an open-streets biking event, will extend its route to incorporate more of South Los Angeles on Sunday April 21.

Bikers at the last CicLAvia event.

Bikers at the last CicLAvia event.

This marks a significant expansion for the event, which began with a smaller route in 2010.

“What we wanted to show was that CicLAvia wasn’t just about being in downtown Los Angeles,” said Aaron Paley, executive director of CicLAvia.

Sunday’s route will stretch 15 miles, from the city’s historic center El Pueblo de Los Angeles all the way to Venice Beach.

Bikers are encouraged to stop along the way to explore the city at local restaurants and shops.

The event is not a race, but rather an immersive Los Angeles experience. [Read more…]

CicLAvia bike event draws 100,000 enthusiasts

Cyclists having a good time at the CicLAvia.

Approximately 100,000 bicycles, skates, rollerblades, walkers and dogs took to the streets on Sunday for L.A.’s fifth installment of the biannual CicLAvia bike festival.

With an expanded route, that added new spurs to Boyle Heights, Chinatown and Expo Park, more than nine miles of city streets were shut down to motor traffic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At a news conference in front of City Hall to mark the beginning of the event that promotes clean air and encourages people to get out of their cars and explore downtown, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said “I hope everyone discovers at least one new thing about L.A.”

Anthony, a Los Angeles teenager riding his bike with two other friends, believes that this type of event should be held more often. “I love it,” he said. “It keeps us out of trouble.”

L.A. held its first CicLAvia in October 2010. Ciclovías originated over thirty years ago in Bogotá, Colombia, as a response to city congestion and pollution as well as to provide an opportunity for young and old to have a place for safe, healthy and enjoyable recreation.

Fifth CicLAvia event to roll through South LA

The movement to change the city of Los Angeles’ image from car capital of the world to bicycle-riding, pedestrian-friendly city shows no sign of slowing down.

CicLAvia, the nonprofit organization that sponsors car-free street events, has announced that its fifth event will take place on Sunday, October 7, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., with new route extensions into South Los Angeles, Exposition Park, Chinatown and Boyle Heights.

Five of the six hubs along the route are new, and each one is situated near public transportation, including Expo Park on Figueroa on the Expo Line which runs west as far as Culver City. The other hubs are MacArthur Park; newly built Grand Park in Chinatown; Mariachi Plaza de Los Angeles and Soto Station in Boyle Heights.

“We are thrilled to extend our route this October into new neighborhoods giving more residents the opportunity to explore their streets and their city in a fun and safe way without cars” said Aaron Paley, CicLAvia’s co-founder and executive producer, in a news release.

For more information, or to download maps, visit


CicLAvia is free of charge and open to all. No reservations are required.

New map points to the next ride in South LA at CicLAvia

By Benjamin Stokes

On Sunday, a team called RideSouthLA celebrated the launch of its new bicycle map to the Watts Towers, handing out copies at the southern tip of the massive CicLAvia festival. The map offers a next ride for CicLAvia enthusiasts, who numbered more than 100,000 pedestrians and cyclists, and filled more than 10 miles of streets, from Boyle Heights to MacArthur Park, seeking to reimagine Los Angeles.

imageProfessor Francois Bar of USC Annenberg Innovation Lab with Tafarai Bayne of T.R.U.S.T. South LA

One answer came with the RideSouthLA map, which was just printed this week. The map provides a “do it yourself” route for a bike ride in South Los Angeles, from the iconic Watts Towers to the wetlands of Augustus Hawkins Park on Compton Avenue. This was the first printing of the map, and more than 400 free copies were distributed, according to organizers.

Several bicycle clubs from South LA were at CicLAvia, including the East Side Riders, which organized a “feeder ride” to CicLAvia as a group. The Riders were eager to view the map, which features photographs of and by several of their members. Their club is a co-sponsor of the website, and they helped pedal-test the route back in January, using their personal cell phones to photograph the Watts Towers and other community treasures worth sharing.

Like CicLAvia, the map is both about alternative transit and social change in Los Angeles.

New map takes bicyclists through South LA

imageSouth Los Angeles organizers are urging people to explore their community in a new way: on their bicycles.

Ride South LA is new cycling map that guides riders through South LA, ending up at the Watts Towers.

Researchers and avid cyclists have been scoping the area for months to set up the route. it was tested by 60 riders in January — using social media mapping tools to gather data and information about which parts of the city people enjoyed and which they didn’t, according to a news release.

The map is available online and will be distributed at this weekend’s Ciclavia event in front of the African American Firefighter Museum on Central Avenue.

The map was compiled not only from rider feedback but also from photos submitted by riders. Those photos can be seen on the printed map.

The organizations behind this project are hoping for broad social change as people experience South LA in a different light.

“Social change with maps only happens if they are integrated into the community’s storytelling network,” said researcher George Villanueva of USC’s Metamorphosis Project in a news release. Storytelling must go “beyond media organizations, and include residents and community-based organizations.”

Ride South LA hopes to continue mapping the South Los Angeles community.

Other organizations behind Ride South LA include T.R.U.S.T. South LA, the Mobile Urban Mapping Project, the Mobile Lab, the Annenberg Innovation Lab and the East Side Riders Bike Club.

CicLAvia tours Watts to build crowd-sourced neighborhood map

Last Sunday, a group of cyclists rode their bikes from Augustus Hawkins National Park in South LA to Watts towers as part of CicLAvia. The event strives to bring attention not only to bicycle culture in LA, but also to the various neighborhoods through which it rides. It encourages people to come along and see the streets in a new light, and maybe catch the bike bug along the way.

The latest event took a tour through the neighborhood of Watts, and teamed up with USC professor Francois Bar to create a crowd-sourced map of the community. Riders were encouraged to bring cell phones to snap photos, send texts and record voice messages about the ride and the community it revealed, all of which will go into the making of the map.

(Participating in the ride on Sunday, the below photos were snapped by a cyclist named Kelly.)


“Free the Streets” promotes bicycle culture in South LA

imageIn the shady gated courtyard in front of Mercado La Paloma on Grand Avenue, handfuls of low-rider and fixed-gear bicycles plus a booming DJ sound system set the stage for the “Free the Streets” bicycle and community activism event last Saturday, November 5th.

Despite sparse attendance throughout the afternoon, the event — also known as the Cycle Music Arts Festival —included screen-printing demonstrations, freehand graffiti painting on the Mobile Mural Lab truck, live DJs and a Pabst Blue Ribbon-sponsored bar.

imageHalf of the $10 admission fee will help campaigns for safer streets in South L.A. that urge for more bike lanes and green areas, better street crossings and narrower roads. The other half will benefit CicLAvia, a semiannual event that blocks off 7.5 miles of downtown streets to cars and gives bicyclists and pedestrians full reign, and their plan extend the route into South L.A.

“We want to bring Angelenos together and show them each other, show them the city, and make our streets more alive,” CicLAvia board member Joe Linton said. “After the first CicLAvia, we got calls from people from South L.A. saying, ‘Hey, when are you going to come to South L.A.? We love it!’”

After hearing requests from many community groups to bring CicLAvia further south, Linton said he recognized the need for it in the neighborhood.

“There’s a lot of risk of obesity, there’s a lack of park space, there’s a lack of places where communities gather,” he said. “We think CicLAvia can play a role in that.”

imageOrganizers are tentatively planning for the new route, for the next ride on April 15, 2012, to shoot south on Central Avenue from Downtown Los Angeles and head west on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Exposition Park and Leimert Park. In the future, they hope to extend it all the way to Watts Towers. But closing down so many streets to car traffic requires money for the proper permits.

With events like “Free the Streets,” organizers and activists hope to raise the funds for the route extension as well as awareness of South L.A. as a vibrant and bikeable destination.

image“South L.A. gets a really bad rep from media sometimes,” said Andres Ramirez, a Strategic Actions for a Just Economy tenant organizer. “CicLAvia gets people to explore different parts of the city that they wouldn’t normally explore. That’s what we’re envisioning, bringing it to South Central. South L.A. has a lot of history, has a lot of culture, has a lot of people period.”

Ramirez gave Mercado La Paloma as an example: a collective marketplace with gourmet Central and South American restaurants, local artwork on display and a kids’ play area that is a “gem” in the community but largely ignored by the rest of the city.

“Free the Streets” and future CicLAvia routes could introduce more people to independent businesses like the Mercado and an improved view of South L.A.

CicLAvia Returns, This Time Even Longer

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageCyclists will be taking to the streets on Sunday for CicLAvia, and this time they will have the chance to bike through South L.A. The new route will include Central Avenue, the Fashion District, and Exposition Park.

“There are many ways to describe CicLAvia. But I would say it’s the biggest block party there is….with bicycles.”

That was Eric Elcaras, a volunteer coordinator for CicLAvia. He’s glad to see that participation is not limited to cyclists

“ You probably have skates, rollerblades, probably have a dog you like to walk and now you can do it in a different way ‘cause now you’re going to be walking in the middle of the street. It’s turning the streets into a park. Anything you can do at the park, you can do in the streets now. “

In addition to contributing to the Los Angeles economy, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa believes that the event will highlight the city’s dependency on cars.

“This isn’t just about the economic impact, though we believe there is one. Look, we gotta get out of our single passenger automobile. This city is absolutely addicted to getting in their car and going two blocks to the market. We gotta get out of our car once in a while and we gotta promote that in this town.”

This is the third time CicLAvia will be held in the Los Angeles area. The last CicLAviaheld in April attracted an estimated one hundred thousand participants. The event originated over thirty years ago in Colombia in response to city congestion and pollution.