Romel Pascual, Executive Director at CicLAvia, recently gave an interview to BYCS, an Amsterdam-based, active-transportation-driven social enterprise. As an urban planner with a long history of championing environmental causes and social justice issues, Romel spoke about the role CicLAvia plays in creating urban spaces in Los Angeles while creating joy and wellbeing in the lives of Angelenos.
"I think CicLAvia can offer a restoration of social confidence and what I’m calling responsible social conscience. We will be out there on the streets giving people the opportunity to engage with it in whatever way they wish. We provide that canvas they can paint with whatever it is that will inspire them that day, the day after CicLAvia, and beyond."
We pulled out a few highlights, beginning with the early work on CicLAvia's first event in 2010:
Romel: At the time I thought this would be a one-off event, and there’s no harm in that. We partnered with the city services to make it happen. It was quite the production and highly intensive, as we had decided we would be making 8 miles of LA streets free of cars... But we knew that there was something potentially magical in it.
Fast forward to 2010, the first CicLAvia, and we realized what an appetite there was for it. So many people chose to attend. The first moment I stepped out onto the street, I simply thought, where are all these people coming from? You realize LA is big, there’s a lot of people, but people own bikes! It was quite an inspiring day on so many levels.
What has been the impact of CicLAvia?
Romel: Ultimately there are so many different metrics: how we encourage active forms of transportation, air quality and climate resilience, what sustainability can look like. It became something 3-D that could be applied to different levels of policy being pushed forward, like a sustainability plan, or for the advocacy for more bikes, parks and open spaces. CicLAvia became the poster for many different elements. You don’t know how something like this will resonate with so many different issues but it does. I think that when you have the openness of people choosing to partake in something like this, you also have an audience of people open to thinking about what the city can be.
In relation to what it can offer in the future, I think CicLAvia can offer a restoration of social confidence and what I’m calling responsible social conscience. We will be out there on the streets giving people the opportunity to engage with it in whatever way they wish. We provide that canvas they can paint with whatever it is that will inspire them that day, the day after CicLAvia, and beyond.
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