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GREEN TRIPPING: CicLAvia – A Valleyite’s Journey

Posted By Karen Young On October 11, 2010 @ 10:40 pm In Activities,Family,Featured,Green Tripping | No Comments

BY JANET LOEB AND KATIE ASCH, Greencatalyst.net

When we were kids, our bikes were our  superior means of transportation — the lessor one being our sneakered feet. On our bikes, possibilities abounded. On a typical morning, we’d wake up, race out the door, jump on our Schwinns and meet up with friends. We were saddled for a day of adventure, free until dusk called us home for dinner. We rode to school, the corner store, the movies, the Dairy Queen— on our bikes we could go so much faster, so much farther..

Today, in this era of the “play-date,” biking has become a planned, organized activity. The freedom to roll out for a ride around the neighborhood with friends has been limited by urban sprawl, hazardous traffic, and personal safety concerns.

This past Sunday, however, thanks to the organization CicLAvia, we pumped up our tires, adjusted our gears and took to the streets for an old fashion bike adventure. A meandering seven and a half miles of normally trafficked thoroughfare from East Hollywood to downtown Los Angeles was closed to cars and between the hours of 10AM and 3PM and Angelenos were invited to enter the route at any point, head in any direction and explore the many neighborhoods along the way.

Although at present the 10-10-10 ride was a one-day event, CicLAvia managed to reach at least the 100,000 riders, rollerbladers and walkers who reportedly attended. Perhaps this could usher in a new way of thinking about California’s car-centric culture.

Our 10-10-10 day started with a short ride to the Universal Metro Station. Bikes fit easily in the metro’s street-side elevator and are allowed on its trains. We exited at the Vermont/Beverly station and joined friends who had driven to our starting point. From the Metro, it was a block over to catch the wave of cyclists who were traveling on various stages of their route.

This was not a race and our only cause was leisure. The freedom of cycling down the multi-laned roads without a care for traffic was indescribable. We rode through neighborhood after neighborhood seeing some places if not for the first time, certainly seeing them from a new perspective. The sound of voices and the scent of air not the engine and exhaust ruled the day. We rode side by side amongst families, cyclists, wheelchairs, baby carriages, skateboarders, scooters, people from all walks of life on wheeled vehicles in shapes and dimensions that tested the limits of our imagination.

While we thank CicLAvia and would participate again in a heartbeat, we have some questions as to whether their plan is a sustainable one. The route required an enormous presence of traffic and police officers to keep the roads closed and safe. Did the city contribute to this event? Was any revenue being generated for the city by the people using the streets? We loved that the event wasn’t commercialized, but we’d like to know that it is sustainable plan with local business districts supporting and being supported. Hopefully with time, this will happen.

One biker we met on the subway suggested that perhaps the money could be better spent finishing the L.A. River bike path and serve multiple purposes: revitalizing the river, and creating a permanent daily route for leisure or commuting to work. It would certainly provide a more accessible biking route from the Valley. Maybe we need to finish projects before starting new ones. Lots to think about.

One thing is certain, L.A. needs and craves bike paths—whether by creating temporary open city space like CicLAvia’s event or by constructing paths around the city to make it more accessible to the non- driver. The 100,000 people turning out for CicLAvia is testimony to this. Our streets are too congested and it shouldn’t have to be “an event” to get us out of our cars.

It was great fun to see Los Angeles and commune with fellow Angelenos on a beautiful Sunday. It was amazing to get outdoor exercise without worrying about getting killed. Maybe next time, CicLAvia can move closer or even into the Valley. For now however, connecting to the city-centered path via Metro worked great and we loved the adventure.

GREEN TRIPPING is  a  column exclusively written for My Daily Find by Green Catalyst. GREEN TRIPPING is about hitting the road, carpool-style, to investigate “green” businesses, activities and destinations in the San Fernando Valley.  Green Catalyst is a group of business professionals, artists, students, and parents promoting an environmentally friendly agenda in fun and compelling ways. They have helped schools and businesses divert trash from landfills to recycling centers and compost bins. We hope you’ll follow them on these pages and beyond.  Check them out at www.greencatalyst.net.

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