Angelenos were forced to take a look at their driving habits last weekend, as work on the 405 Freeway closed off access to one of the busiest traffic routes in the region. Carmageddon II, as the weekend long construction project was called, was backed with a massive outreach campaign to warn commuters to avoid the busy corridor, to stay home or close to home, or to try out another mode of transportation, like Metro rail lines, walking or cycling.
This Sunday, on the heels of Carmageddon II, Angelenos will once again get the chance to rethink how they get around parts of the city. Over 9 miles of Los Angeles streets will be car-free in celebration of the 5th CicLAvia event which will close off multiple streets and turn them into a linear park for biking, strolling and playing.
In addition to streets leading to MacArthur Park, Mariachi Plaza and the Soto Station in Boyle Heights, this year CicLAvia’s route will also include Exposition Park, Chinatown, and the newly opened Grand Park in the Los Angeles Civic Center. All six hubs are easily accessible by Metro Rail.
Organizers of the annual event say closing off streets gives people a chance to explore parts of the city they might just rush by in their automobiles. Being at street level, whether on your feet or on a bike, is a chance for people to see things they might not otherwise notice from the inside of a car, CicLAvia organizers note. The new routes “offer unparalleled opportunity to survey Los Angeles’ cultural and culinary riches,” as well as a “grand tour of Los Angeles’ most celebrated attractions,” according to organizers.
And for many people taking part in the event, there could be added health advantage: a new appreciation for physical activity that can be fun as well as good for you. Taking cars off the streets also improves the air quality in some of the city’s heaviest traffic corridors.
CicLAvia challenges the stereotype of Los Angeles as a car-addicted, smog-chocked city. It allows residents to enjoy the benefits of the city’s improved walkability, public transit and vibrant street life, add organizers.
“People love CicLAvia because it is incredibly fun, and there is a sense of camaraderie and community that is rare for a city as large and diverse as ours,” said Aaron Paley, CicLAvia’s co-founder and executive producer, in a written statement.
The event is free of charge and open to all. No reservations are required. CicLAvia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting public health, active green transportation, public space, economic development, and community building through car-free public events. It is made possible through sponsors including the City of Los Angeles, Metro, and the Los Angeles Country Bicycle Coalition. For more information , or to download maps, visit www.ciclavia.org.