New “CicLAvia Explores” program connects audiences to local communities; first event is Thursday night

Heads up, people: the first event is this Thursday evening, a panel discussion on the new streets of L.A. in DTLA — event description and RSVP info is below. Here is the news release from our friends at CicLAvia:

New “CicLAvia Explores” Program Engages and Connects Audiences to

Los Angeles County Communities Throughout the Year

First Event is August 7 With Two Additional Events Planned for September

LOS ANGELES – CicLAvia is thrilled to announce the launch of “CicLAvia Explores,” a new program designed to connect Angelenos with communities in Los Angeles County through a range of engaging activities held separately from CicLAvia car-free event days. The Explores program kicks off August 7 from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. with the New Streets of LA discussion featuring transportation leaders and advocates, held in partnership with the Levi’s Commuter Workspace at 157 W. Fifth St. in downtown LA (see full details below).

When people hear the word, “CicLAvia,” they tend to think of car-free streets filled with people biking, walking, running and skating. But CicLAvia’s mission is also to engage with people to positively transform their relationship with their communities and with each other. CicLAvia Explores extends the spirit of CicLAvia in between its signature large-scale, car-free events with a series of smaller activities in areas where CicLAvia routes have traveled, will travel to and to vibrant communities that have yet to experience a CicLAvia route.

 “After every CicLAvia we hear from people who rave about discovering a new restaurant or store, coming across a historic building or beautiful park, or simply liking the ‘feel’ of a neighborhood they’ve discovered on the route,” said Executive Director Aaron Paley. “CicLAvia Explores gives us another platform for that level of community engagement. The programs will allow our audience to have a glimpse of new routes, stay connected to previous CicLAvia streets and discover other neighborhoods.”

The Explores program, which features a new play on CicLAvia’s logo, provides opportunities to delve deeper into the sights, sounds, tastes, design and heritage of communities in a more intimate manner than on CicLAvia days. The program will offer gatherings, discussions and activities highlighting the food, culture and architecture of selected neighborhoods. CicLAvia will partner with local leaders, businesses and organizations for these events to give participants an insider’s glimpse of the community. The organization will also work with the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and with city council offices to highlight the city’s Great Streets initiatives.

CicLAvia Explores year-round activities will typically be held 4-6 weeks in advance of a car-free event to give the audience a preview of what they will find on CicLAvia day. Additionally, CicLAvia Explores provides the opportunity to revisit previous routes and go into new communities that have yet to experience a CicLAvia route, demonstrating that the organization is committed to connecting with local communities outside of a car-free event.

Each CicLAvia Explores activity will be unique to the community where it is held. Some events will be free while others will have a cost. Planned events include:

August 7 (7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.)The New Streets of LA – A panel discussion followed by music, food and drinks held in partnership with Levi’s Commuter Workspace (a pop-up destination at 157 W. Fifth St.), near October’s Heart of LA route. LA’s leading transportation experts, activists and innovators will talk about the future of LA’s streets that keep LA vibrant, safe and open. The panel will feature Mayor Garcetti’s selection for General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Seleta Reynolds, as well as Los Angeles Walks executive director and founder Deborah Murphy, LA County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Jen Klausner, City of LA Transportation Commissioner Tafarai Bayne and Metro Transportation Planning Manager Avital Shavit.

RSVP at http://levis-commuter.ticketleap.com/august7/details. Event is 21+.

September 7 (2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.; 6:00 p.m. movie screening) – CicLAvia Explores Broadway – A day for CicLAvia fans to enjoy the revived Broadway Theater District, which is part of the October 5 Heart of LA route. Activities include free walking tours of the Broadway Theater District with CicLAvia Executive Director Aaron Paley (2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.), and an open house of the Million Dollar Theater (courtesy of LA Historic Theater Foundation) from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. The day will conclude with a ticketed screening of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” in the Million Dollar Theater at 6:00 p.m. with a portion of the ticket proceeds going to CicLAvia. Visitors can also enjoy the myriad of food choices at Grand Central Market throughout the day, as well as concessions from the market for the movie that evening. Tour reservations and movie tickets will be made available in the coming weeks.

September 14 – Melting Pot Tours will lead A Taste of East LA – a culinary journey which will take participants to several restaurants on or near the Heart of LA route that highlight the cuisine of East LA. The cost is $25 and includes a CicLAvia TAP card. A portion of the proceeds will go to CicLAvia. Tickets will be available for purchase online starting August 13.

For information about the CicLAvia Explores program and events, please visit http://www.ciclavia.org/explores.

The October 5 CicLAvia – Heart of LA is sponsored by Metro, a proud partner of open streets events throughout Los Angeles County.

For a download of the CicLAvia Explores logo, click here.

About CicLAvia CicLAvia is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. CicLAvia catalyzes vibrant public spaces, active transportation and good health through car-free streets.  CicLAvia engages with people to transform our relationship with our communities and with each other. With the full support of Metro, local governments, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Council, Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Water and Power, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Cultural Affairs, CicLAvia is an innovative model for creating new public space and enriching civic life.

CicLAvia Partners include Metro, the City of Los Angeles, the Wasserman Foundation and an Anonymous benefactor.

Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – Vanessa Gray, C.I.C.L.E’s new executive director!

We are collecting nominations for the Year-Round Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a monthly Why you Ride series because for many Angelenos, Bike Week never ends!

  • Name: Vanessa Gray.
  • Origin and destination: From Silver Lake to destinations around Hollywood and Downtown L.A.
  • Distance: Short and medium commute – Vanessa rides anywhere from 3 to 10 miles each way.
  • Type of commute: A combination of multi-modal and clever commute.
  • The commuter: Seasoned (she’s been doing this a while); chic (riding with flair); and zealous (encouraging others to try pedaling to school or work).
Vanessa Gray, new Executive Director of C.I.C.L.E accompanied by her cute doggy and awesome vintage bike.

Vanessa Gray, new Executive Director of C.I.C.L.E accompanied by her cute dog and awesome vintage bike.

The Bike Week LA team is thrilled to give Vanessa Gray the July Golden Pedal Award.

Vanessa is known for living and breathing the bicycle lifestyle. She’s out riding in style on her vintage Bridgestone bicycle practically every day. She is a true role model and example when it comes to showing everyone that one can use a bicycle to get around town and look good while doing it!

Vanessa recently became C.I.C.L.E.’s new executive director. We’re sure she will work hard to further the organization’s mission to promote bicycling as a viable and everyday form of transportation.

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Connect US seeks to better link Union Station to neighborhoods via new esplanades and bike paths

As most of you likely know, Metro has been developing the Union Station Master Plan to preserve the historic train depot while also renovating it and redeveloping parts of the 40-acre campus as use of the station continues to grow.

A companion study has been looking at an equally important issue: better linking Union Station by foot and bike to surrounding neighborhoods. Union Station sits on the far northern end of downtown Los Angeles and, at present, it’s often not terribly pleasant to reach via sidewalk or bike.

The linkages study — called Connect US — seeks to remedy that by recommending 13 separate projects totaling $50 million to $60 million in costs that would create a series of corridors that walkers and cyclists could use between Union Station and the Regional Connector’s 1st/Central Station and surrounding neighborhoods. Among those communities: Chinatown, Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo, the Civic Center and the Arts District.

A PowerPoint of the study’s recommendations, presented by community members last Thursday at a City Hall event, is posted above. As you scroll through, there are a series of maps and renderings that provide an idea of the scope of the project.

Among the improvements: an esplanade between the entrance to Union Station that would reach across Alameda Street to El Pueblo de Los Angeles and Olvera Street; new esplanades with expanded sidewalks and protected bike lanes along Los Angeles Street, Alameda Street and North Broadway (which would sit on the bluff above Los Angeles State Historic Park), and; add bike lanes (some protected) and sidewalk and street improvements to other key streets such as 1st Street, 3rd Street and Santa Fe and Alpine.

Metro is helping to plan the improvements, which will largely be undertaken by the city of Los Angeles (the city oversees downtown streets). The project has been separated into a series of smaller projects, the idea being that each project can be done when funding becomes available, a nod to the realities of transportation funding.

The final speaker at last Thursday’s event was Gil Penalosa, the well-known former parks chief in Bogata, Colombia, and who now heads up 8-80 Cities, a nonprofit that advocates for parks, bike lanes, pedestrians and making cities more vibrant and sustainable — the kind of things people usually like in cities. As he made clear, the Connect US plan would not only help improve mobility in downtown but would make L.A. more like other well-known cities across the globe that are walk- and bike-friendly and that people love to visit.

Gil Penalosa speaking at last Thursday's event unveiling of the Connect US plan at Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Gil Penalosa speaking at last Thursday’s event unveiling of the Connect US plan at Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Summer Metro Motion explores unique So Cal journeys via Metro

In the summer edition of Metro Motion, we hear from two millennials – one a scientist, the other a teacher – and find out how climate change inspired their journeys to lives without cars. Sure, they’re saving money. But that’s not their point. They see public transit, bikes and walking as the best ways to take care of our ailing planet and ourselves.

Summer is here and that means peak produce and time for a trip to L.A.’s fabulous farmers markets via Metro. The produce and prepared food is primo and these modern markets offer tools to teach healthy eating and cooking skills.

Looking for the quintessential So Cal biking experience? Watch as cyclist Mike Ryan loads his bike onto the Expo Line to Culver City, jumps on the Ballona Creek Bike Path and cycles to Marina del Rey for a free concert with the ocean and the stars as backdrop. Beautiful!

We also travel back in time to bid a fond farewell to I-405 construction as the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project opens the completed HOV lane. We look back at Carmageddon I and II, Rampjam and Jamzilla — and at the same time we look forward to smoother sailing through the pass.

Metro Motion runs quarterly on cable stations throughout Los Angeles County. It’s co-produced by Metro and Santa Monica City TV.

Metro Board approves $3.7 million in grants for ‘Open Streets’ events around L.A. County

The $3.7 million in grants awarded by the Board helps cover the expense of 12 ‘open streets’ type events in the next two fiscal years. These are events in which streets are typically closed to motor traffic and opened, as the name implies, to pedestrians and cyclists. In other words, events similar to the CicLAvia events that have been very popular in L.A. the past few years.

Events in the following cities received funding: Carson, Culver City, Downey, El Monte Huntington Park, Lawndale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Pasadena, Santa Monica and South Pasadena.

The staff report below shows the 12 cities/jurisdictions that were awarded money. Although advocates for Long Beach asked for funding for a second event, Metro officials noted that guidelines prioritized funding one event per city before funding multiple events in the same city.

Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – Steven Nancarrow, committed to transforming his life through cycling

We are collecting nominations for the Year-Round Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a monthly Why you Ride series because for many Angelenos, Bike Week never ends!

  • Name: Steven Nancarrow
  • Origin and destination: From downtown Glendale to East Pasadena.
  • Distance: Long commute – Steven rides 11 miles each way–an hour-long trip.
  • Type of commute: A combination of scenic, traffic-congested and bike paths.
  • The commuter: Converted commuter – for new riders, seasoned commuters – for old hands, and zealous commuters – for those who are encouraging others to try pedaling to school or work.

Tess Nancarrow, thanks for nominating Steven for the Gold Pedal Awards, your participation is important!

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Steven (front) and friends riding along a neighborhood street celebrating “Finish The Ride”

Tess told us that Steven has been commuting by bicycle four times a week for three years now. He now rides almost 100 miles per week and celebrated his third Bike to Work Day this year. Not too long ago, while he was still living in Eagle Rock, he used to combine cycling and transit (Metro Gold Line) to commute to work. However, since moving to Glendale he commutes to Pasadena by bike almost every day. Once Steven’s daughter is a little older, he plans to be permanently car free.

Originally, Steven started to commute by bike to lose weight and save money on gas and the gym; now he does it purely for the love of bike commuting. He is always encouraging others to use active transportation when commuting to work or going to the store. He has convinced several people at his work to start walking, biking, or taking transit to work. He continuously shows how easy and fast it is to get around Los Angeles without a car.

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – biking to work is no challenge for Wesley High

Location - Union Station - Harvey House Restaurant Space

Wesley High, winner of the Bike Ambassador Award. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro.

Each year, the Diamond Awards recognize the achievements of corporate rideshare programs in the region and their contribution toward decreasing gasoline consumption, air pollution and commuter costs. New this year were the Ambassador awards, which acknowledged commuters for ridesharing and for taking the initiative to promote transit alternatives to their peers.

The recipient of the Bicycle Ambassador award, Wesley High with Phelps, is a truly avid bicyclist. Wesley began biking three years ago on Bike to Work Day and now rides from Silver Lake to where he works at Phelps in Santa Monica—a whopping 30 miles round trip. He also founded his company’s bike to lunch club, leads a company team during the national bike challenge, and his desk often acts as a makeshift bike repair shop for coworkers.

Below, Wesley shares his thoughts on his daily commute and talks about why he rides.

How did you commute before you started biking to work? What made you decide to ride?

When I moved to L.A. five years ago, I was commuting by car from Encino to Santa Monica. When I moved to Silver Lake I started taking the bus instead, which I did for about six months. We’d get stuck in traffic trying to cross the 405 and I’d see people riding right past us on their bikes. I thought to myself “I could do that.” I did a test ride on the weekend and said “I can do that” and from that point started making it a regular thing.

How often do you bike to work? How long does the trip take? Do you ever connect to transit? 

I try to ride at least three times a week. I recently got a dog and we can bring them into work, so she has cramped my riding a bit, at least until I get her trained to ride in a trailer. The trip takes about one hour in the morning and an extra 5 to 10 minutes in the evening, depending on if I’m riding alone or with others. I use transit occasionally, mostly when I’ve encountered mechanical troubles like a broken spoke or flat tire. I just put my bike on the next bus and then repair my bike when I get to work.  

What tips do you have for making a bike commute easier?

Finding some other people who commute by bike, especially along your same route. I try to say “hi” to other people I see riding along my route and strike up a conversation. I’ve made a few friends, just because we were both heading the same direction and decided to ride the rest of the way together. Making friends while commuting to work is not something that really happens when you are driving by yourself. This is one of the reasons I joined an organization called L.A. Bike Trains, which lets you join up with experienced bike commuters along routes across the city. 

Do you have any interesting tales from your bike commutes?

I’ve seen all sorts of things. Other riders wearing only a Speedo, someone driving around with their hood up, countless people using their phones, calling, texting, watching videos. Incredible amounts of backed up traffic, one day I passed 631 cars in a 3-mile stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard in about 15 minutes. I was very happy I rode that day.

Thank you, Wesley, for your commitment to bicycling! Keep up the good work, and happy commuting.