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Cyclists roll through downtown L.A., East Hollywood and more

Parts of East Hollywood, downtown, East L.A. and points between are closed to vehicles for CicLAvia. The event invites people to explore the city and burn some calories while they're at it.

October 10, 2011|By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times
  • Bicyclists cruise along Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles during Sunday's CicLAvia.
Bicyclists cruise along Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles during Sunday's… (Christina House, For The…)

When the Jeffersons get together every few weeks, they generally barbecue or make a large meal.

But all 11 jumped on their bicycles Sunday to take part in the third CicLAvia event, biking from Hollywood to police headquarters downtown by lunchtime.

"I figure we could get physical instead of sitting around the table," said Andre Jefferson, a 49-year-old safety officer, as he wiped sweat from his forehead.

His sister, Audra, had to borrow a bike on Sunday but said she enjoyed the event so much she was going to get her own and start cycling more regularly.

"I have a 5-year-old son, and I need to have some more energy so I can keep up with him," she said.

Inspiring people like the Jeffersons to explore the city while burning calories was the main point of CicLAvia, which closed 10 miles of city streets from East Los Angeles to East Hollywood to traffic, turning streets full of SUVs and sedans into one big bike lane full of cyclists, runners and skaters.

Authorities reported no major injuries or crimes along the route. And event organizers estimated that the turnout for Sunday's ride exceeded April's, which was estimated at 130,000.

CicLAvia was inspired by the ciclovia (Spanish for "bike path") movement in Bogota, Colombia, which began nearly 30 years ago. The event has become so popular locally that other cities are considering holding similar events.

The event drew many regular cyclists who said they were looking to spice up their exercise routine. Adriana Lopez rode the Gold Line from her home in Lincoln Heights and then spent the morning riding around downtown, pausing to take pictures and enjoying the novelty of riding on an almost-deserted Main Street.

Lopez said she's been riding her bike for exercise for five months and wouldn't mind venturing into downtown, but "it's hard to find safe places and not get hit by a car," she said.

So the 31-year-old normally sticks to riding around the Los Angeles River. But "after a while, it gets kind of boring," she said. "So this is fun."

CicLAvia may have inadvertently given the city's other big movement, a week-long protest near Los Angeles City Hall, a shot in the arm.

Protesters with Occupy Los Angeles, which is modeled after similar events in New York City and throughout the country, have been camping out since Oct. 1 to call attention to the role corporations have played in the recession.

Many bikers eyed the tents and sign-waving protesters curiously and huddled in the shade near them as the day grew hotter.

"This is exactly what we need," said Kevin Livingston, a 20-year-old Redlands resident who has been camping at City Hall since Friday. On Sunday, he posed for pictures with bicyclists near his "End the Corporate Destruction of Earth" sign.

"We want to have as many people know what's going on here as possible," Livingston said.

jason.song@latimes.com

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