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 – 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.

Why You Ride: Transit Edition – Kay Gonzales is a faithful Green Line commuter

Kay Gonzales, winner of the Transit Ambassador Award. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro

Kay Gonzales, winner of the Transit 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 Transit Ambassador award, Kay Gonzales of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), walks the talk. Kay has been a loyal transit rider for more than three decades and currently takes the Metro Green Line to work at the offices of Los Angeles World Airports. Kay distributes transit passes on behalf of the rideshare office, and she’s always eager to answer questions and offer help to make the commute easier for her coworkers.

And Kay performs these duties in addition to her normal work assignments!

Below, Kay shares her thoughts on her daily commute and talks about why she takes transit.

How did you commute before you started riding transit? What made you decide to ride?

I have been a lifelong transit rider–I’ve taken buses, the Green, Blue and Red lines. I ride because I don’t have to look out for other drivers. I can read, think, make notes, talk to others, close my eyes. Be happy when I get to work and when I get home.

How often do you take Metro work? How long does the trip take?

I use the Green Line every day. It’s about an hour in the morning, an hour and half in the evening.

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

Have your pass/change ready, wear comfortable shoes, carry a large purse/bag for your lunch, book and sweater. 

Do you have a favorite Metro bus or rail line?

The Green Line. It’s the best transit I have ever used; it is fast, clean, does not cross traffic.

Thank you, Kay, for being an advocate of transit! Keep up the good work, and happy commuting.

Why You Ride: Vanpool Edition – Charlie McDaniel is a true vanpool ambassador

Charlie McDaniel, winner of the Vanpool Ambassador Award. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro

Charlie McDaniel, winner of the Vanpool 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 Vanpool Ambassador award, Charlie McDaniel of Jones Day, is a true advocate of ridesharing. Charlie formed 10 vanpools for commuters from Riverside to Union Station–an impressive feat especially because she was able to form 4 in one day!

Below, Charlie shares her thoughts on her daily commute and talks about why she shares the ride.

What made you decide to rideshare?

Commuting to downtown Los Angeles from the Inland Empire can be time consuming and expensive. I knew a lot of people with the same problem, and they asked if I could try to figure out a less expensive way for everyone to get to work. I then looked into vanpooling and learned how beneficial it could be for everyone involved. After figuring out what it would cost for people to get into L.A. from various cities in the Inland Empire, I commenced passing out flyers asking people who were interested in vanpooling to contact me with their travel times. I got an amazing response and began putting together various vanpools out of Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona and the like.  

I was particularly interested in saving people money. At the time I got involved in this, a lot of households were reduced to single income households due to the economy and mass layoffs and desperately needed a more cost-effective commute. It was and is a major success because we are able to accommodate personal schedules, and it resulted in a major reduction in what had to be paid monthly.
 
How often do you rideshare to work now? How long does it take? 

Five days a week, Monday through Friday. The commute is roughly an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. I’ll have been vanpooling for 2 years by this July.

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

The key to having a happy vanpool is that everyone is congenial, takes heed of the rules and abides by them.  

Thank you, Charlie, for being a leader in the vanpool community! Keep up the good work, and happy commuting.

Metro gets a nice cameo in new Alternative Travel Project video on getting around L.A. sans personal car

This video has been making the rounds since being posted earlier this month. It’s the work of the Alternative Travel Project, a group which advocates for — as the name implies — travel by transit, bike and foot. On the local front, the actress Stana Katic has been giving the group a helping hand and the group has been involved in pushing CicLAvia.

It’s a great video with Metro playing a supporting role — and it shows that cars are hardly the only travel choice in So Cal. Share it please.

UCLA students learn the ropes of L.A.'s transit system

Here’s a nice, short video from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, which each fall provides an “L.A. Transit Tour” to incoming students to help them get a better handle on the lay of the land here. Take a look. The video includes footage of former Source writer Carter Rubin preaching the gospel (of transit) while aboard Metro Rail.

Now that's a pro-transit music video!

If you’re watching this at work, consider this an “earphones” alert. The video is from the band “It’s Casual” and the song is called “The Red Line” and is decidedly pro-transit.

In an email, front-man Eddie Solis wrote the song is non-fiction account of a working professional who chooses to take public transportation “because the freeways are not so nice.” In the song, Eddie takes particular umbrage with the 210, 605 and 101.
Enjoy!