Los Angeles Like You've Never Seen It Before

| 4/11/2011 5:10:19 PM

Tags: open streets, cicLAvia, los angeles, Carolyn Szczepanski,

A few months ago, I wrote in awe of Madison, Wisconsin. With a little help from local advocates, the city hosted an open streets event that closed off popular roads to cars and drew 50,000 cyclists and pedestrians to fill the space with a community-building celebration of active transportation.

Well, I hadn't seen nothing yet.

Yesterday, Los Angeles hosted it's first open streets event of 2011 and hundreds of thousands of folks showed up to pedal and play on the liberated pavement. Unfortunately, I wasn't there to partake of the festivities — but my boss, Jeff Miller, president of the Alliance for Biking & Walking, sent me a report from the road. Yep, that's him posing with Lance Armstrong. But, as he outlines below, the beauty of the event was the mainstream majority.

Here's what he said...

"For more than six hours I soaked up as much as I could: the sun, the views, the smiles, the sheer beauty of seeing hundreds of thousands connecting with their neighbors and city in a wonderfully unique and natural way. Los Angeles is known to most of us for its tangle of congested highways and smog from the millions of cars. But yesterday, during CicLAvia,I saw an amazing city of cyclists!

Estimates put the crowd at 200,000-500,000 people and I think every demographic was represented among the masses. Sure, there were plenty of folks wearing lycra on expensive bikes — Lance Armstrong included — but they were out numbered by the hipsters on their fixies, sporting tattoos and U locks hanging from belts. Really the largest numbers were everyday people, wearing normal clothes on a wide range of bikes. There were small kids on scooters or riding bikes with training wheels; young boys and girls on BMX bikes, parents with toddlers in seats and trailers; couples on tandems (and a few tandems ridden solo with signs offer the seat up for a small fee or smile); teenagers riding with their cliques; men with long beards; ladies with fashionable skirts and fancy hats; and people of every ethnic and social background together. All of them were viewing their city and fellow citizens like they had never seen it before — free of dominating and oppressive automobiles.

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