In a piece for Zocalo called I Blocked Off Wilshire and Angelenos Loved It," Aaron Paley talks about when he and his wife saw the beneficial effects of Bogota's street-closing ciclovía and how the Los Angeles version came to happen here. It grew out of some discussions about using the Los Angeles River for a festival. He is a co-founder of CicLAvia. Excerpt:
What I’ve learned firsthand is how hungry Angelenos are for civic space and just how willing and ready they are to participate in it. The challenge is to create new spaces—either as temporary interventions or as new infrastructure—and to string enough of them together to give birth to a new definition of life in Los Angeles.
Already back in 1982, when I was just a secretary at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, I learned firsthand that Angelenos would come together if the conditions were right. The museum held an annual “Festival of Masks” and would close Wilshire Boulevard for a parade and take over Hancock County Park for the weekend. That year, I met Kate Bergin, my business partner of 31 years, and together we formed a firm to specialize in precisely that sort of event: large and public and dependent on community participation. We called our firm “Community Arts Resources,” which, perhaps fittingly for this city, is also known as CARS.
Since its founding, CARS has worked on a range of programs that create new ways for Angelenos to engage with their city. We’ve been involved with the Santa Monica Festival, the Fringe Festival (the first in the United States), the ArtBus Tours of Los Angeles, the Getty Museum’s Family Festivals, GLOW in Santa Monica, Chinatown Summer Nights, the California Endowment’s Healthy Neighborhood Festival, Little Tokyo Design Week, and many other happenings.
Recently, though, I have become involved with a project that has taken our work to a whole new level. And it’s happening on a scale as big as this city. For the first time, I am getting a glimpse of what this place might look like if we allowed ourselves to believe that L.A. was the kind of city where we weren’t always divided by the protective armor of our cars.
More at Zocalo.
There will be three CicLAvia events this year, two on new routes: April 21 from Downtown to Venice Beach, and June 23 from Downtown to Fairfax Avenue on Wilshire Boulevard. The October 6 CicLAvia will be on the original route downtown. "We hope to eventually create 12 individual routes throughout Los Angeles that will rotate monthly and activate hundreds of miles of the city on a regular basis," says Paley, the executive director of the CicLAvia organization.