Embracing open, accessible streets in South LA

When we open up streets to people – to walkers and runners, bikers and skaters, skateboards and scooters, pedicabs and strollers – we celebrate Los Angeles. We see art along the streets and buildings, we see architecture and parks, we find new restaurants and food trucks, and we get to enjoy the incredible weather we have; we also see how much work we have to do to make our better streets serve Angelenos.

On Sunday, we saw some of this work in progress: a new initiative led by City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, StreetsLA, and LADOT is bringing new safety enhancements to Western Avenue. This will include the addition of new signalized pedestrian crossings, curb extensions, median islands, landscaped medians, street trees, and pedestrian lighting.

So our 39th event, CicLAvia–South LA on Western Avenue, was both a celebration and a preview of changes in store for Los Angeles. We hope to see more open streets, more greenery, more pedestrian-friendly and cyclist-friendly infrastructure in the weeks and months to come.

To kick off our event taking people through the neighborhoods of Vermont Square, Harvard Park, Chesterfield Square, Exposition Park, and King Estates, we heard from a mix of representatives – from the district's Congressional and council reps to spokespeople from LA Metro and members of our board.

Congresswoman Karen Bass shared a personal experience: "I'm a lifelong bike rider – been riding since i was in high school – but i tend to ride on the beach because it's safer to ride there. And one of the things we have to do in our city is make it safe to ride everywhere. I believe one of the things that will help make it safer to ride is to have barriers, so bike riders don't have to feel like if someone is on their cell phone or not paying attention, that you're in danger.

"So I want to congratulate LADOT, LA Metro, and CicLAvia for putting these activities on. I think it's a wonderful way to celebrate Los Angeles – and what a great city we live in!"

There was so much art along the streets, and many cyclists and pedestrians commented on how much more they noticed (that they never saw when they sped past in a car). The city truly came alive on Sunday.

And others used CicLAvia as a jumping off point to go see the Jazz! at St. Andrew's Music Festival, just a mile off our route! They biked there as a group, led by the LA County Bicycle Coalition, to take some of the safe streets energy along with them.

The improvements along Western Ave made a real difference here – and we expect they'll continue to make this street a much safer route by which Angelenos can commute and exercise.

Our partners and friends had booths set up along our Hubs, where the LA Public Library had a bookmobile, reps from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the Santa Monica Mountains Fund (SAMO Fund), Metro Bike Share and so many others met with the community and shared their work and their enthusiasm.

Attendees also stopped by the Los Angeles STEM Collective installation; the LA STEM Collective is a group of museums, aquariums, and nonprofit and community-based science education organizations. The group first came together in response to the pandemic, providing distance learning STEM education for Los Angeles students. They provide rich and diverse science education opportunities for students and their families. A lot of people had the chance to learn more about this incredible organization on Sunday.

Continuing our theme of making LA safer, we also saw 74 people get vaccinated against COVID-19 (thank you Shared Harvest | myCovidMD™) and the City of Los Angeles Community Investment for Families Department gave away 94 helmets and 200 other reflective safety equipment for cyclists and skaters.

Every moment along our route felt like a photo-worthy moment, and thanks to the Las Fotos Project pop-up portrait studio and the Snap Yourself roving photo booth, CicLAvians got some excellent shots of their day.

As always, our free bike repair was a winner, thanks to by Primo's Bike ShopHollydale Cycling, and Dag Riders Bicycle Shop.

Everyone finds their own way to enjoy CicLAvia. However you travel the route (or bask in one place) and whatever you see, you learned a little more about the neighborhoods around you and the life that comes to the streets when we take away the cars.

Ready for more CicLAvia? Join our email list to get the latest updates on CicLAvia–Meet the Hollywoods on August 21, and well as future events in downtown LA and across the county!

It’s thanks to the incredible support from people like you that we are back on the streets again. Join our CicLAvia Street Stars to help us make this year our best yet. Make a regular donation in support of open streets in Los Angeles, and get exclusive gifts in return.

Photos: Jon Endow, Farah Sosa, and Snap Yourself.