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Bicycles fill Wilshire

CicLAvia also goes out of its way to welcome pedestrians

June 24, 2013|Emily Foxhall and Hailey Branson-Potts

Quincy and Monica Jeffries had never seen Wilshire Boulevard so quiet. They smiled up at the blue-green facade of the Wiltern theater.

"You just drive by, and you don't recognize all the beautiful buildings," Monica Jeffries, 40, said.

The couple had traveled from Santa Clarita to participate in CicLAvia, which offered a rare opportunity to enjoy a car-free 6.3-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, from downtown to the Miracle Mile area. The Jeffrieses rode Trikkes -- three-wheeled, scooter-like vehicles with no motors or pedals.

Sunday marked the seventh CicLAvia, a recurring event that is intended to give Angelenos a different perspective on the city. Wilshire was closed to motorized vehicles between Grand and Fairfax avenues for seven hours, the longest a CicLAvia has lasted.

Under a gray June-gloom sky, some riders had speakers in their bicycle baskets blaring music -- one man's blasted Daft Punk songs -- and others sang as they rode.

Some sported spandex and rode with focus. One man pedaled quickly and stared ahead, while the young girl riding tandem behind him gazed around at the Korean barbecue restaurants they passed.

Les Golan, 57, pedaled her bicycle with her cockatiels -- all 19 of them -- perched on her shoulders, chest and neck. The music teacher has participated in multiple CicLAvias with her birds, which were all named after popular musicians and singers such as Billie Holiday and Dean Martin.

CicLAvia's organizers called Sunday's route the most pedestrian-friendly one yet. It began and ended with pedestrian-only zones, which featured activities such as Pilates and bicycle helmet decoration.

Judy Harper of Echo Park posed for a picture with a large Oscar statue near one end of the route at Fairfax Avenue. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences plans to open a film museum nearby.

"It's so beautiful to see," Harper, 52, said of the event. "People don't believe L.A. is a riding city, but it's great because it's relatively flat and we have beautiful weather."

The $350,000 cost to stage each event is paid for by the nonprofit CicLAvia and by the city, which uses state and federal money. CicLAvia was inspired by similar ciclovia events in Colombia, which started more than 30 years ago as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets.

Sunday's event drew more than 100,000 people, CicLAvia spokesman Robert Gard said.

J.J. Keith, 33, a writer from Hollywood, clutched husband Alden's shoulder as she tried to maneuver in a pair of roller skates. Alden Keith, 35, pushed a stroller carrying their young son.

Their daughter Beatrix, 4, rode ahead on a Razor scooter, wearing a blond ponytail and pink helmet. She smiled as she got too far ahead and her mother told her to slow down.

"She's just always wanting to scooter," Alden Keith said, laughing as his wife tried to catch up to Beatrix. "We don't have a lot of parks without cracks and potholes; this really is one of the only places she can do it."

As her parents slowed down, Beatrix turned around and looked up at them. "What's wrong with you guys?" she said, adding that she was done "relaxing."

A few blocks later, her parents were grinning. A tired Beatrix rode in the back of the stroller while her father carried the scooter on his shoulder. Her mother had traded the skates for a pair of sandals.


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