The upcoming CicLAvia event, which shuts down stretches of L.A.'s streets for a massive group bike ride/block party, will feature a new route that extends farther into South Los Angeles than ever before. The course is often concentrated in and around Downtown and northeast L.A., but for the October 7 event riders will head south; down a long stretch of Figueroa, past Jefferson Boulevard and into Exposition Park.
This is the first time the ride will go to this neighborhood -- a portion of the city that many cyclists say has a burgeoning grassroots bike scene. Recent community events such as Ride South L.A., which mobilized community members to bike ride to the Watts Towers, helps to further solidify the area in future plans for a more bike-friendly city.
Tafarai Bayne, the community affairs manager at T.R.U.S.T South L.A. and a board member for CicLAvia, said he attended the very first ride and has always intended on bringing the bike course through South L.A. He said that for a neighborhood that has very little green or open space, CicLAvia provides a lot of opportunities for recreation.
"To be able to turn it [the street] into a park for the day -- I feel is really powerful," said Bayne.
The 9.1-mile bike course will also snake through Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights as well as Chinatown, and stop by Downtown's Grand Park -- which is expected to be completed and open to the public the day before CicLAvia. There will be six hubs on next month's ride where people can congregate and check out informational booths and entertainment.
One of these hubs is in Exposition Park, on Figueroa and Exposition close to multiple Expo Line light-rail stops. Bayne said this hub will feature booths from South L.A. community organizations that focus on healthy and active living, as well as live performances such as a concert put on by the California African American Museum.
This will be the fifth CicLAvia in Los Angeles and organizers expect upwards of 100,000 people to participate.
"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 co-founder and executive producer of CicLAvia, Aaron Paley, in a statement.
CicLAvia takes place the weekend after Carmageddon II is scheduled to shut down a large portion of the 405 freeway, spurring city officials to encourage residents to stay out of their cars and off the road then as well.
In preparation for each CicLAvia ride, organizers go on six or seven "exploration" or "mini" rides to feel out new neighborhoods and streets. Bayne said they survey the areas, take photos and explore the pros and cons of new courses.
As of now, the CicLAvia route is limited to a maximum of 10 miles, so any extensions on one side of the course requires eliminations in others. Although expanding the route to Central Avenue was considered, crossing the blue line train tracks posed safety concerns, said Bayne, and even though CicLAvia works closely with Metro and the L.A. Department of Transportation, they were unable to come up with a plan yet that satisfied all parties.