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CicLAvia encourages Angelenos to rediscover their city, mayor says

CicLAvia

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa kicked off Sunday's CicLAvia festival with a famous quote from Albert Einstein: “I thought of that while riding my bicycle.”

“He was talking about the Theory of Relativity.… Now, I’m not promising we’ll all come up with groundbreaking scientific theories today, but I do hope that everyone discovers at least one new thing about L.A.,” Villaraigosa said at a morning news conference in front of City Hall to mark the beginning of the event that encourages people to get out of their cars and explore downtown.

City authorities on Sunday closed more than nine miles of city streets to motor traffic, opening them up to bicyclists, walkers and skateboarders, among others. Sunday’s event, which officials said cost about $350,000, lasts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This is the city’s fifth CicLAvia. L.A. held its first CicLAvia -- billed as the city’s biggest block party –- in October 2010 when more than seven miles of streets were blocked off to motor traffic from Boyle Heights to East Hollywood.

The event was immediately popular, and that first CicLAvia, and the three others that followed in the last two years, have drawn an estimated 100,000 people or more.

This weekend’s route includes much of Figueroa Street from West 7th Street downtown to Exposition Park; West 7th Street from MacArthur Park to Spring Street; travels from the intersection of West 1st and Spring streets east into Boyle Heights and Mariachi Plaza; and extends from Spring Street north into Chinatown.

At the news conference, many public officials who had traded in their dress shoes for sneakers spoke about the power the event had in changing L.A.’s identity as car-obsessed.

“When you have an event that draws more than 100,000 people and you just see a sea of bicycles, a sea of people walking, a sea of pedestrians and families getting together,” said City Councilman Jose Huizar, “that speaks more to promoting bicycle use in the city of L.A. than any piece of legislation we could pass.”

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--Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Riders make their way east down 7th Street during the fourth CicLAvia event April 15. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

 
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