Next CicLAvia heads south, but not quite into South L.A.

Aug. 23, 2011, 11:58 a.m.

A section of Central Avenue will be off limits to car traffic Oct. 9 as part of new CicLAvia extensions announced last week.

The event, which opens up roads for pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, roller-bladders and more, will continue its original 7.5 mile route, stretching from East Hollywood through downtown and into Boyle Heights, now with three additional miles of north and south spurs.

Although the final route branches south from downtown leading to the African American Firefighter Museum on Central Avenue and north from City Hall to Chinatown’s Central Plaza, the south expansion is only a section of what community members and CicLAvia organizers had drafted for South L.A.

“We don’t consider the South L.A. expansion has happened yet, but it definitely brings the route closer to the South LA community,” said Tafarai Bayne, Community Affairs Manager for Trust South LA and member of CicLAvia’s South L.A. Host Committee that worked on drafting the route.

Bayne explains that the plans for a full South L.A. expansion, which included paths through Central Avenue, Martin Luther King and into Exposition Park, had to be postponed mainly due to concerns over the route’s Metro Blue Line crossing point on Washington Boulevard via Central Avenue.

Approaching its third swing, CicLAvia’s route has never crossed active train tracks. But Bayne calls this situation “unavoidable,” pointing out that Metro Blue Line’s layout makes it nearly impossible to access South Los Angeles from downtown without crossing its train tracks.

“The future expansion is really exciting for us but with these minor issues we understand it takes a little bit more time and a little bit more money to straighten it out.”

In the meantime, organizers continue to host meetings, workshops and exploratory bike rides and say they plan to work with local transportation authorities to make future expansions happen.

“I think we'll keep getting farther into South L.A.; it's dependent on funding and on making it safely across the Metro Blue Line. We're getting 1.5 miles of the way there... it’s just a step at a time,” said CicLAvia organizer Joe Linton.

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