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CicLAvia: Thousands in L.A. ditch cars for bicycles for the day

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Like thousands of other people, Junue Millan rode his bicycle on Sunday morning to downtown Los Angeles for CicLAvia.  But unlike most, Millan ditched his bike for a moment to hula hoop in the street wearing fuzzy faux-fur handmade boots.

“I’ve been car-free since 2005,” Millan, 29, of Silverlake, said as he swiveled his hips near the corner of 1st and Spring streets.

The property manager, who wore a gray and green sweat shirt proclaiming him a champion at “cow tipping,” was one of thousands who abandoned their cars for bicycles and other modes of transportation for L.A.’s second CicLAvia.

The event, which drew in-line skaters, pedestrians, skateboarders, the young and the old, was designed to give L.A. a break from its car-dependent culture. About 100,000 turned up for the first CicLAvia last October. LAPD officers said it was difficult to give an accurate count for the latest event, but they said it was clearly in the thousands.

The family-friendly route takes riders from Boyle Heights and downtown L.A. to Westlake, Koreatown and East Hollywood. Although some stuck to two-wheeled forms of transportation, others used scooters. Some left their bikes to toss footballs or jump rope in the street.
“There’s no specific plan, no agenda. It’s just about people taking the streets back,” said Bob Vanech, a treasurer and founder of railLA, one of the event supporters.

Like others, Vanech said he wanted to see Los Angeles move away from its reliance on cars to using other ways to get around, including bicycles, public transportation and rails.

“I’m also a believer in electric cars,” he said.

As Vanech spoke, Millan showed up and asked if he could use a patch of asphalt nearby.

“Is it OK if I borrow it for now?” he asked. Then Millan took out his hula hoop.

He said he used to commute 16 miles a day to work before ditching his car for his bike. “It was hard initially, but eventually it became a breeze,” Millan said. “It’s completely possible and doable.”

For the record, 6:37 p.m., April 10: A previous version of this post referred to Bob Vanech as an organizer of CicLAvia. His organization, railLA, supported the event.

-- Hector Becerra

Photo: Los Angeles holds its second CicLAvia event, closing 7.5 miles of roadways to cars and opening them up to bicyclists, runners, walkers, skateboarders and in-line skaters. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For the Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (75)

Those of you commenting about the gas, I have the opinion that it's not the main point of this event. In reality its a great way to explore the parts of the city via a form of transportation that is increasingly difficult for people to do without getting clipped by a car. Its a way to bring together the community in a fun and healthy way. I saw people from all walks of life just enjoying the beautiful day and everyone seemed really happy. If you did not take part in this, I sure hope you just give it a try next time around, I had a fantastic day. Its one of the things that, for all the faults of government at a local level, is a nice gesture to the people of the city. If you are totally against it and got stuck in traffic because of it, all I can say is that its 2 times a year and hopefully it doesn't cause too much of an inconvenience. Also the food at the rest stops was awesome...

We need to build entire roads above the L.A. river which lead into city streets for bicyclists, runners,walkers skateboarders and dogs with a leash. There could be exits unto streets all over the city closed off to cars permanently. We could have licensed vendors along the way selling hot dogs, tacos, fruits and drinks along the way. It would create jobs and we the beautiful people of L.A could raise the money. How you ask? One dollar at a time. To know L.A. is to love L.A and I LOVE THE CITY OF THE ANGLES !

Excellent event. Very popular. LA felt different today.

The first 9 comments below must all be written by the folks who didn't hear about it ahead of time and wasted this beautiful Sunday indoors or inside their cars... tragic!

Folks, no reason to be bitter: there will be another Ciclavia, where the sublimely meaningful gesture of HAVING FUN IN THE STREET can be enjoyed by you, too. July 10th. See you there!

It might just be a gesture but it's a welcome gesture to a city where most people fire up the SUV to go two blocks down the street. I don't think they mean to suggest to my 75 year old dad to jump on a bike to go get his medicine but my family does bike and beside the fact they save lots of gas in a year's time they also get some healthy exercise. You want to fire up the 8 cyl SUV or truck or you 12 cyl Jag 100 dollars a tank... be my guest.

LA needs more of this idea not less. I don't see the drivers on the 405 having a lot of fun. I did see a ton of people having a blast today. Kids, older people, couples, teens, all were having a great time. Cars suck.

Man -- such negativity from the comments section! Just because folks ride a bike sometimes doesn't mean they hate cars! I rode with my family down there today and had a good time. Also drove by truck in the afternoon to run errands. It's not an either/or decision, but a choice. Sometimes I use my bike to get around, sometimes I use my car. Very happy with both.

I think this is a great idea. I am a bicycler and happy to see this kind of event. These events promote a positive attitude towards bicycling. We already have plenty of car advertising to promote a positive attitude towards our car culture. When the people in their Hummers and Silverado V8s die at age 60 of cholesterol clogged arteries, I'll be continuing to choose to ride my bicycle.

It's not a complete waste of time to have an event on a weekend leisure day that closes a specific route to cars (one one stretch of road, you'd think they shut down the whole city the way some people complain about it). We have car saturation everywhere all the other days of the year. We can give up one day and the city will not collapse.

We can shut the streets down for parades and other events, so why not an occasional CicLAvia? It's a Sunday, for crying out loud. What else is so important that it can't be pre-empted for one Sunday, or an alternate route found? It's no different than any other thing in this city that affects the flow of traffic. Whatever it is you have to do, you can either avoid that area or just cope with it and know that tomorrow will be back to the car-choked madness you seem to prefer. Put on your grownup pants & if it's not your cuppa just find something else to do that one day. I'm sure they can all enjoy a convivial urban atmosphere in which to relax, stroll, bike, or skate in peace without you.

I think CicLAvia is an awesome event & look forward to more such events.

beautiful day on my bicycle

Norma C. : Why do you even bother to have an opinion on something that doesn't even affect you one bit?

Wow, an article about a fun event for the whole family and all this animosity in the comments. I wonder what these folks had to said about the LA Marathon!

Some people just can't imagine having fun riding a bicycle. I wonder what they did as kids.

Well, I had a blast! It was a beautiful day, I didn't have to think about careless drivers, was able to ride with friends and talk the whole time. The city installed the greatest bike path in the world for 5 hours. I'd do it again!

Sorry so many people missed the point of this event. Ciclavia turns our streets, normally almost solely dedicated to cars (although not completely financially supported by the use of cars, unlike many people's perceptions), into a park for EVERYONE, as long as you're not in a car, for a few hours.

The turn out at these past 2 Ciclavia events has been impressive. It clearly shows there is pent up desire for this sort of space in LA. People come and people participate. It's a place to go just to have FUN and I've never been around so many Angelenos of all ages that seem so genuinely happy!

Something to consider: In the last mayoral election in LA, only 17.9% of LA registered voters turns out to vote (1.6 million registered voters total). Of those that voted, less than 153,000 votes were cast for Villaraigosa. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that more than 153,000 people showed up at this event yesterday.

It was fun and I did ride it for health reasons and not for supporting those oil leaks on the ocean.

I drove there with my wife and two kids and I had family visiting from out of town to come and join us for CiLAvia. We had a great time riding with the kids and seeing many other families out there enjoying themselves.

It's a great way to reuse our public spaces for another purpose. And that purpose is fun and engaging. I personally had a great time stopping by to enjoy the architecture downtown and some of the classic brick buildings . We stopped at city hall and had the kids run around and had some lunch.

Best part about all of it, the weather was awesome. This was a the perfect day to have CiLAvia.

Thanks to all of the traffic enforcement and police officers working the event...I don't know when the last time was I thanked a traffic enforcement officer, this might have been the first.

A very big and special thanks to all of the organizers and volunteers for the event also.

We should do this every weekend. It was truly amazing to see how active the streets and surrounding shops, cafes, and bars were without cars.

What and amazing day! Hooray for LA! My favorite thing was the awesome people watching all day - and who knew so many of us had bikes in the LA area! super great day to be outside and with so many others enjoying our families, friends, and our city (not to mention all the good food along the route)!

This was a fantastic event! Cannot wait until the next cicLAvia! Thank you Los Angeles =) we certainly need more events like this!

First of all, this was the first time I and my children a 12 and 9 yrs old and my dog participated in this event. Got to say the gas prices, traffic congestion and other ridiculous claims been put out there was the least of my worries. My son had a big smile on his face. He was encouraging his sister that many times thought about quitting. Seeing them both enjoy riding made me realized that by bringing them to this type of events I am raising healthy kids that will bring a better tomorrow. Besides the good benefits gues what I saw?? People getting off of their bikes rushing in and out of stores, restaurants and etc. In larger numbers to buy and it had been a while since I saw that in Downtown. For those that moved to this area I don't know in which world you were living before moving in because is well known that Downtown has always been a wild ride. Please get over it, it was just one Sunday. We are all entitle to have one special day as we are tax payers. Join next time and you will how different it is by participating on it than to be an outsider and talk if you really don't have a clue of what it is about it.

CicLAvia was wonderful. My friends and I saw the city in a whole new light. As a pedestrian downtown, you can't truly appreciate the buildings' beautiful facades since you ware right next to the buildings. It was a great, fun, and healthy civic event and LA should definitely do more of them!

Good for you all! I have no problem with it as long as it doesn't interfere with normal traffic. But, lets be clear, bicycles should have to conform to the laws of the road and move when they aren't keeping up with the flow of traffic.

my wife and i along with some friends that took the train up from long beach to take part in the event had a great time riding along the closed roads. it's not often you see people of L.A. smiling and having a good time together at events like this. to all you people who are down on the event and have all this negative feelings about it, i think you need to get out of the house, maybe get on a bike or walk around and for gods sake put a smile on your faces. geez...
if you don't like it, move back to where you came from.

wow, i didn't expect so many negative comments for a bike ride. i missed this event and will surely hit it up next time. i still don't get why people snub their noses at bike riders. it's anther form of transportation, hence clearing the streets for you car lovers. be my guest as spend all of your money on gas while we save ours for more vacations.

For those of you who obviously don't get the point of CicLAvia, read Ms. Banks column: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-banks-20110412,0,6479738.column

It's much more than just about cycling in LA.

The Negative Nancy's criticisms are short sighted (on other articles in the times about ciclavia). Critics accuse people of riding bicycles as trying to enforece their will on motorists. They aren't. I can assure you most bicyclists have a car. I am not one of those who believe in a car free LA. Thats impossible, the car is a wonderful machine. However, it is not sustainable to live the car only lifestyle. It fuels our enemies, destroys our cityscape, and wastes land.

As a resident of Los Feliz, I try to limit my car use by taking Metro, walking or riding my bike. If I have to take my car, then yes I will take it, (I'm not going to take public transit to go from LA to Torrance then Pasadena then Long Beach, its impractical).

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