Ditch the car keys, grab your bike and mark your calendar for the 10th day of October. It's when seven miles of Los Angeles streets will be closed to cars and open to just about everything else.
“LA is a place where people are very much habituated to driving,” said Adonia Lugo, board member of CicLAvia, the grass roots organization behind the seven-mile shut down. “CicLAvia temporarily transforms the streets into a public park."
CicLAvia is an event where approximately 7.5 miles of roadway in Los Angeles will be closed to vehicles and opened for cyclists, pedestrians, joggers, skateboarders and families. All of the action is set to take place on a stretch of road from Boyle Heights to east Hollywood.
The group's objective is to make a public space out of our cities’ roadways.
"We hope to get people to come out who are unfamiliar with public transportation," said Lugo.
Lugo believes L.A. is “park poor” and lacks a sense of community. She thinks CicLAvia would get people out of their houses to “experience the streets a little differently.”
The event originated out of Bogotá, Colombia, 30 years ago and continues today. Locals there close 70 miles of road every Sunday for seven hours.
New York, San Francisco and Chicago have all held events similar to the one planned for this fall here in L.A.
CicLAvia has raised approximately $70,000 for the event through different foundations and a partnership with the L.A. City Council and the mayor’s office. They have also received pledges from contributors on their kickstarter.com page. The city of Los Angles has agreed to cover all city-related expenses.
“We have had an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response,” Lugo said. “A lot of people in LA want to know how we can transform this city into a more livable place.”
Lugo said that the event will draw customers to businesses along the route. Shops owners and restaurants are encouraged to open their doors.
"It would be a really good event for exposure for businesses, not only the ones that are along the route, but any companies that are trying to access a population that is interested in progressive transportation or car-free transportation and educating people about the possibilities of that."
The group is aiming to eventually have this be a weekly event, with varying routes.
“What we would all love to see is a networked county-wide system that is more permanent,” Lugo said.
For more information go to the CicLAvia website: www.ciclavia.org