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Tens of thousands of Angelenos hop on their bikes for CicLAvia

April 21, 2013|By Matthew Fleischer

Tens of thousands of Angelenos abandoned their cars Sunday and hopped on their bikes, strapped on their rollerblades or pulled on their walking shoes and took to the streets to rediscover their city as part of the sixth CicLavia.

Starting near City Hall, the cyclists, skateboarders, dog-walkers, runners and pedestrians slowly began making their way along the 15-mile, car-free route that will take them from downtown to Venice Beach. Organizers were expecting more than 100,000 people to participate in Sunday's event.

Not even a few technical difficulties could stop the fun at CicLAvia.

Elsa Roldan said she was all set to take part in her first cicLAvia: She woke up early, she rallied her friends to come, she hopped on the Metro Gold Line at Atlantic and rode all the way to Little Tokyo.

Then, as she exited the train with a huge smile on her face and mounted her pink beach cruiser on the platform, something happened.

Her bike wouldn’t pedal.

“I should have stayed back and gone to church,” she said with a loud laugh. “This isn’t even my bike! It’s my friend’s mom's.”

Her boyfriend, Angel Calderon, and his friend, Keith Ferrer, immediately got to work diagnosing the issue -- with Ferrer’s 11-year-old son Jonathan occasionally shouting some advice.

“You need to move the kickstand.”

The kickstand, however, was not the problem. Roldan’s bicycle chain had dislodged and was trapped on a screw mounted to the bike's frame. Calderon tried to free it, but it was stubbornly attached.

Eventually, with some serious tugging by Ferrer, they managed to free the trapped chain and restore it to its proper place. The smile returned to Roldan’s face.

Was the group heading to the beach?

“We’re just going to mess around and see what happens,” Ferrer said.

Streets along the route will be closed to motorized vehicles from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A map of the route showing crossings open to vehicles -- and other information -- is at www.CicLAvia.org.

Parts of Alvarado, 7th and Main streets will be closed downtown. Venice Boulevard will be closed to vehicle traffic in both directions from Alvarado Street to Crenshaw Boulevard. From Crenshaw Boulevard in Mid-City to Grand Boulevard in Venice Beach, Venice Boulevard will be closed to westbound car traffic only.

The event was inspired by Ciclovia, which has been staged in traffic-choked Bogota, Colombia, for 30 years. Instead of driving elsewhere for entertainment, residents were invited to use the street as their playground.

Will you explore the city Sunday during CicLAvia? Let us know how you’re enjoying the city and tweet your car-free photos @LANow with the hashtag #CicLAvia or upload them here. We’ll post the best ones.

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matthew.fleischer@latimes.com

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