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For CicLAvia, two-wheelers get the right of way in Los Angeles

Nearly eight miles of city streets will be closed to cars Sunday as cyclists take over. Last year's first CicLAvia drew about 100,000 participants. More are expected this weekend.

April 09, 2011|By Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times

Go ahead, play in the street.

So say organizers of CicLAvia, an event Sunday that allows bicyclists, skateboarders, pedestrians and rollerbladers — second-class citizens in this car-dependent city — to dominate nearly eight miles of Los Angeles' streets.

The ciclovia, which means bicycle path in Spanish, began in Bogota, Colombia, several decades ago in response to pollution and street congestion. Instead of driving elsewhere for entertainment, residents were invited to use the street as their playground.

Last October, about 100,000 people turned out for Los Angeles' first CicLAvia, which was planned by a committee that included bike activists, environmentalists and transportation advocates. Organizers expect an even greater number this time around to be on the family-friendly route that stretches through East Hollywood, Koreatown, Westlake, downtown and Boyle Heights.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., participants are encouraged to traipse around neighborhoods that often whiz right past their car windows. Wheelchairs and scooters are welcome, as are young children and the elderly.

It's not a race, and organizers say participants will get the most out of it if they stop to chat with friends, patronize the eateries and shops and take in the public art. Last year, one couple made an impromptu stop at a chapel to get married, and many took part in a street dodgeball game.

"As a city, we've developed a car culture, and we've learned that's no substitute for human interaction," CicLAvia producer Aaron Paley said. "What we need to do now is reinvent the public space of Los Angeles so that there are places where people can come together and share. We don't have to build an entire new infrastructure. We can actually use something we already own and repurpose it."

Paley said that two additional CicLAvias are planned for later this year and that the organization hopes to make the event a monthly occurrence.

Although the roads are closed to auto traffic, there will be some intersections where vehicles are allowed to cross. They can be found at http://www.ciclavia.org.

corina.knoll@latimes.com

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