CicLAvia, Los Angeles' answer to Bogota, Columbia's 30+ year old Ciclovia, that temporarily closes down city streets for a day and transforms it into a sort of urban park that's car-free and open to ride your bike, skate, walk, jog, run, cartwheel and/or dance your heart out. Every CicLAvia event has had different routes. The most recent was last Sunday (October 6th) called "Heart of L.A." (the original route) where they've focused on mainly the streets around downtown L.A. And admittedly, our favorite route closure. Roads around downtown L.A. are just a bit crazy on regular days, with all the one way streets and some hills, that you miss a lot of good architectures and good food stops when you're driving, unless you make a certain place your ultimate destination.
You can start at any point in the route. There is no designated start and end. It is what you make of your day. Our jump off point on this last CicLAvia was the Metro Gold Line station stop in East L.A., the Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights and plan to ride out all the way to the south side, passing downtown to see the African-American Firefighters museum (that we have never heard of till this day) and then riding back to downtown to gorge ourselves in several downtown food spots and trucks (yes, we put back whatever calories we burned in the morning!). The route closure always runs along side some Metro stops, and will almost always be close to the L.A. Union Station, a good jump off point if you're coming from anywhere in SoCal - Amtrak, Metro Link and some Metro lines converge to stop here. So with a bit of planning, it will be easy to just leave your car at home (or closer to home) and avoid the hassle finding parking close to the route, 'cause let's face it, scoring cheap or free downtown parking is a combo of skill and luck.
This year, CicLAvia events has extended their hours from 10-3 p.m., to now at 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. A change that we didn't feel much. Getting to a hub an hour before it officially starts is a good way to avoid crowds in popular areas, since they technically start closing roads around that time anyways, even on the old schedule. Riding on empty downtown streets is bliss.. seriously. There will be other early birds, but few enough not be riding alongside anyone for quite some time. If started early enough, you may have covered a lot of ground already in exploring, so it is best to start heading back and calling it a day an hour before they start opening the streets.
Best way to avoid jammed metro trains and stations. Or you can also just kill time at any restaurant or bar and wait out the thinning crowd, if you don't mind riding along side cars way after they've opened up the streets again. This event is always on Sundays anyways, so no usual rush traffic but, please, always ride safe!
I must say though, closing down streets especially a downtown area, even on a Sunday, I bet is no easy feat! I can just imagine all the proposals that had to be proposed, the permits applied, the convincing that needed to rallied, coordinating everything and everyone (it must be like a symphony!) - to that I say to the organizers: KUDOS! and Thank you for having the guile to start this and continue moving it forward.