CicLAvia Recap: What it Meant to the Valley

IMG_20150322_113835

So, another Ciclavia came and went.

No, it didn’t.

I could be talking about the numbers that attended. I can show dozens of pictures to give an idea what happened. I could tell you how this IMG_20150322_113835was a triumph of bicycles over cars.

It was none of that. This was about people.

Not just your normal set of CicLAvia regulars. This event took place further away than from any prior event. This event was more about the valley and the locals responded.

They may not have known where to start or what to do, but they simply showed up. I started at the opening ceremonies at the North Hollywood Station at 8:45(ish) to a larger than expected crowded. Once the pomp and circumstance was done, the masses hit the street.

I like showing up to CicLAvias early to avoid the crowds, but yesterday wasn’t the case. Never before had I seen this event as crowded before 10am.

IMG_20150322_090232
Mayor Garcetti starts CicLAvia off

The sense of adventure and exploration took precedence. Part of the vibe was from people never experiencing an event like this, but the other half came from veterans who had never explored the 818 before.

The stereotype of the valley being the very definition of suburbia has been fortified over the years, but that trend has seen a reversal recently. With addition of the Red and Orange Line, and rising costs of commuting, people have been moving inward, not outward. Businesses that laid dormant for years have received a second life.

IMG_20150322_102757
New Orleans procession

The valley suffers from the same problem that other neighborhoods do across the region face, in that drivers generally pass by them through freeways rather than at street level. Bringing people into the streets here was more foreign than previous CicLAvias. And people loved it.

Whoever was there commented how amazing it was. Those who just saw it commented how amazing it was. Friend of friends…..you get the picture.

If you were a restaurant open on Sunday, you were understaffed. If you were a business that might not have made more sales, but tried to embrace the event, like North Hollywood Hardware or the Toyota dealership, you made new friends.

IMG_20150322_144436
CicLAvia is over, but don’t tell the people in Stout that.

I’m not going to name call the restaurants that closed or the businesses that complained about the event only to set up booths. The important part was that the event was a giant positive. Even the glitches in the route were overlooked because everyone was so happy.

The bar I went into was overly festive in the same way tailgating for your favorite college team. Everyone was sharing in a joint experience and being part of the community was more important than the reasoning of why it was happening.

The only time I remember anything similar in the valley was in 1984 when people lined the streets one early morning to watch the Olympic torch pass. I remember standing on Burbank Blvd. meeting new neighbors, people bringing their individuality to the streets and people being overwhelmingly happy. CicLAvia had that, but on a much grander scale.

I don’t need to hear the metrics of how many showed or the dollars that were made. Comparing the pageantry against others is fruitless as well.

The point is this: Yesterday we saw the valley in a whole other light. We had a glimpse into what part of the future may look like.

We experienced the ease of how to get to nearby destinations. We discovered businesses and neighbors we never met before. We had an opportunity to seek at what it is like not to look for parking.

And we all had a fantastic time doing it.

We.

  • Pingback: Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog Los Angeles()

  • Thom Jakowczyk

    Fabulous report on such a marvelous event. I had hoped to take part in the event but have been off the bike for about 2 months with health issues. Looing forward to being at the next CicLaValley and other open streets events. Keep up the good work. Thmj.

  • Pingback: (Late) Morning Links: Griffith Park road under attack, more on Sunday’s CicLAvia, and stupid Scot cop tricks | BikinginLA()

  • A big influence in the Netherlands for obtaining a new transportation policy in the 1970’s, that tripled the amount of protected bikeways, was massive protests by bicyclists over the injuries and fatalities from increased motorization. Unfortunately, Los Angeles does not yet have a sufficient number of cyclists to create large protests. What LA has is large gatherings of 10’s of thousands of bicycle riders at these CicLAvia events, which according to councilmember Jose Huizar is the biggest driving force that gives the political will to install bicycle infrastructure.

  • Happy to know it turned out so well. Bummed I was unable to attend this first CicLAValley. Not that I didn’t do anything, for I had a race that day. Hope to make the next one.

  • Pingback: Show Up Wednesday for Lanes On Lankershim - CiclaValley()