This Saturday, Oct. 10, is the 10th anniversary of the first CicLAvia in L.A. County. That first CicLAvia was followed by many great open streets events in the past decade that gave folks a chance to escape their cars, explore neighborhoods, eat at new places and even try Metro’s growing rail system.
The events have been imaginative, safe and a fun way to experience what LA could be if it wasn’t saturated all the time with motor vehicles.
Those with long memories will recall there was skepticism such an event could even be held in the L.A. area — even though open streets events were becoming increasingly popular around the world. The fears were the usual ones. Closing streets would be a hassle. Traffic would halt. Blah blah blah.
And then it finally happened on Oct. 10, 2010, and the event was…EPIC. Hardly a shocker but attendance has been robust at nearly every open streets event that has followed in heat, chill and rain. The list of major thoroughfares closed to vehicle traffic is a long one…Wilshire, Central, Lankershim, Ventura, Venice, Huntington, Colorado, Firestone, Figueroa, Hollywood. To name a few.
CicLAvia co-founder Aaron Paley has a great essay at Medium looking back at CicLAvia’s first decade. Excerpt:
Ten years after the promise of that first CicLAvia, the streets look basically the same. The political will is still on the side of making sure that cars can move freely and quickly throughout our neighborhoods instead of seeking ways to balance transportation modes of all kinds — especially walking, biking, and public transit. The ongoing governing principle of Los Angeles remains the power of the automobile and not the will of the people.
I am still waiting for the long-term, permanent, and equitable reshaping of the public thoroughfares that connect this vast metropolis.
And, I am still waiting for that reimagined city to take form. A place where we treat those without a car with respect and where equity and equality are reflected back to us through our streets and infrastructure.
I think it’s safe to say that Metro sees things likewise — read the agency’s Vision 2028 blueprint — and is trying to provide other ways to get around besides driving. Metro is a proud partner with CicLAvia and has an open streets program to help fund events around L.A. County.
As for 2020, it’s a slog for sure. But this too shall pass. While most of this year’s open streets events were postponed, maybe there is an upside: by all appearances, more people than ever this year got out and walked and rolled through their own communities. We firmly believe the appetite is higher than ever for a region that doesn’t have to be navigated solely by car.
The pics above and below offer a look back at some of the last decade’s CicLAvia and open streets events. We’re looking forward to the many events that will take place in the years ahead and we know it will be a big moving street party when we get out there again!
Metro Art Senior Manager and CicLAvia Board Member Heidi Zeller contributed to this post.