CicLAvia: All Bikes, No Cars, Yay!

DTLA minus cars
DTLA minus cars

On Sunday Robert and I participated for the second time (Robert’s third) in CicLAvia, an event that comes around 2 or 3 times a year, shutting down a bunch of streets to cars and opening them to cyclists. Being married to a cyclist means events like this are a pretty big deal. Robert was basically in paradise–cruising around Downtown L.A., no cars in sight, just bikes bikes bikes! It’s such a cool feeling to pedal down a giant street downtown–that’s usually crammed with cars–between high rise buildings and feel like you’re on a movie set. Everone’s yelling and ringing their bells and it’s like a party on wheels.

Gold Line
Rob and I on the Gold Line on our way down to CicLAvia!

We met up with some different friends at our apartment at 10am and rode two blocks to the Gold Line station, where we took a short train ride to Union Station downtown.

The route went from downtown L.A. all the way to Venice Beach–about 15 miles–but we didn’t make it that far because there were SO many people this year (180,000!) that we kept getting in bike traffic jams, which kind of defeats at least part of the purpose of leaving the cars at home for the day. So we stopped in Culver City for lunch and then took the train back downtown.

We were gone all day, not heading back until the late afternoon, and I kept having the feeling of being a tourist in a foreign city–except we were still in L.A.! One of the best parts was when we got back downtown and hung out at Grand Park, newly remodeled by Robert’s company (it was the first project Robert worked on!). It was so fun to just hang out with a coffee frappucino, people watching and dipping our hot feet in the cool fountain.

It also kind of felt like a statement, being at CicLAvia. I never realized how unsafe LA tends to be for cyclists–people just don’t look and a lot of them are irritated by people on bikes. Now that I ride around our city of Pasadena with Robert, I see the other side of the coin. Cyclists are choosing a more environment-friendly, cost-effective, and healthy form of transportation, and a lot of times we are met with honking horns or frustrated drivers speeding up right behind us and then roaring past in a dangerous fashion. It’s all pretty frustrating and makes me wish L.A. was more bike-friendly, like Portland or Amsterdam. I think we are on our way, though!

Finally, it was a bit of a personal achievement for me. It’s hard to believe that only a year ago Robert was building me my bike and I was terrified of riding it. I remember we rode down the street to a parking lot where I freaked out trying to make turns and quick stops. Now I’m happy to say freak-outs are much more rare, and also my slow-speed balance has greatly improved, which really came in handy during all those bicycle traffic jams!

The next CicLAvia is in June. You should check it out!

Grand Park group
Cooling off at the fountain at Grand Park downtown

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