CicLAvia — Reflections on its Disruptive Power 10 Years After
10/10/10 was a thrilling day! Our intrepid group of dedicated volunteers* pulled off a coup of enormous proportions. In Los Angeles, the land where the car reigns supreme, we launched CicLAvia creating 7.5 miles of new public space by repurposing streets for people and banishing vehicles for the day. It was a radical idea that overnight became a touchstone for change and a symbolic turning point in LA’s transportation evolution. Or, so I thought.
Looking back over the past ten years, I am filled with enormous pride at our accomplishments tempered by tremendous disappointment at the lack of systemic and equitable changes to our streets. Let’s start with the positive side of the ledger.
Angelenos embraced CicLAvia with a fervor that took me, and many others, by surprise. I have produced numerous events over the past four decades the size and scale of CicLAvia (with my company, Community Arts Resources — CARS). Although they are fondly remembered by participants and attendees, none have had the wide-ranging impact of this project.
CicLAvia was and is different. The buzz stuck and the attention CicLAvia garnered on that first day has increased exponentially since its 2010 launch. Angelenos embraced this new experience with a deep passion and turned CicLAvia into the most successful and admired open streets event in the country. CicLAvia is now an integral and beloved part of LA’s fabric. People talk about it as the day when they’re most proud to be an Angeleno.
In ten years the non-profit organization has created 226 miles of car-free streets with 35 CicLAvias throughout Los Angeles County involving 1.8 million people — that’s an incalculable amount of random human contact, children navigating their own city on their terms, and acres of temporary public space.
I wonder why CicLAvia has such staying power. Is it the novelty of the city of cars getting by for a day without them? Or is it the David and Goliath story that captured…