This Sunday, you’ll have the opportunity to experience what could be the future of Los Angeles–without a car. That’s right: the City whose modern history was defined by the automobile is regularly experimenting with a car-free environment–and it’s FREE!
Here’s what it’s all about:
CicLAvia makes the streets safe for people to walk, skate, play and ride a bike. The City of Los Angeles, community leaders, and non-motorized transportation advocates designate a specific route that will remain car free for 5 hours on the chosen day, turning the streets into one giant family-friendly zone (yes, Moms and Dads, there will be potties).
This Sunday, the event starts at 10 am and ends at 3 pm, and runs from Union Station, through downtown, using Venice Blvd. from Alvarado all the way to Pacific Coast Hwy (official map HERE) for a total of 15 miles of fun (1-way). Major intersections are regulated by Los Angeles Police so that crossing automobile traffic can traverse the City. But it’s not just an out-and-back ride.
There’s lots to do along the way. There are 9 different hubs of activity between Union Station and Coast Hwy. There will be several bike repair stations, radio stations (including KCRW, Santa Monica’s NPR), non-profit outreach stations, and lots of corporate sponsorship booths. In fact, the only place where I turn into a real girl with a shopping gene, REI, will have an activity area complete with a rock wall and photo booth.
At a couple of locations, there will be a Kids Zone, where young ones can partake in bike skills workshops, including an obstacle course that teaches them to sharpen their bike handling skills. From 11 am to 1 pm there will be helmet give-aways at the two Kids Zones (but I recommend having a helmet when you start the event, just to be safe).
Music will be plentiful, with several DJ’s and The Carmen Perez Memorial Marching Band will perform live at the Mar Vista Farmers Market Hub. The band blends jazz, afro-funk, klezmer, New Orleans second line, and liberation music from all parts of the world.
But the main attraction is that you can ride your bike, walk, skateboard, roller-skate, razor, or hop, skip and jump for 15 miles without worrying about the cars or the traffic. You can get there without your car. Take Metrolink–it’s better than Disneyland!
Here’s what you need to know to have a fun time at CicLAvia:
- Print out or download the official map HERE.
- Bring sunscreen and a water bottle!
- Take the first train northbound on Sunday, departing North Beach at 8:37 a.m. Cost: $10 round trip. Seriously–you couldn’t drive that cheap!
- HINT: allow plenty of time to buy your ticket from the vending machine. Sometimes, the machine card-readers don’t behave, so be prepared with cash. (DON’T buy your ticket by destination name or you’ll pay the regular price. Select WEEKEND PASS. You can buy that ticket anytime beginning Friday at 7 pm on the weekend you want to travel).
- USE THE BIKE CARS IF YOU’RE BRINGING A BIKE: Metrolink has special cars that carry 18 bikes on the lower level, people above. They’ll be running extra bike cars just for this event, but all Metrolink cars can carry bikes, it’s just that you’ll be limited to 3 bikes only on the normal cars.
- Arrive at Union Station, Los Angeles, at 10:30 a.m. Follow the crowds to the main entrance to the station and get yourself to the official route of blocked-off roadways. There’s a short ride/walk across the street filled with cars, so be careful. Cross towards Olvera Street and you’ll find the CicLAvia route directly in front of the historic La Placita Church at 535 N. Main St. Here’s the official trip planner (HERE).
- HINT: if you want to make it all the way to the ocean and back, you’ll need to avoid dilly-dallying westbound. I recommend getting all the way to PCH, then do a more leisurely pace returning to Union Station.
- REALLY BIG HINT: At 3 pm, the barricades come down and the streets are returned to the cars and buses. So, you don’t want to get caught down by the beach when that happens, or you’ll have to ride with the cars back to Union Station.
- RETURN to Union Station: There are ONLY TWO afternoon trains returning to San Clemente, DEPARTING L.A. at 2 pm and 4:40 pm.
- When I rode CicLAvia last October, we made sure to take the 2 pm train b/c I was worried that the 4:40 pm train would be so packed with bikes that we might get stuck in L.A. We arrived at the train platform 20 minutes early to ensure a ride home.
- You cannot rely upon Amtrak as a backup plan, UNLESS you’ve purchased a reserve ticket for you AND your bicycle. Even though you have more p.m. trains available on Amtrak, the schedule will only get you to San Juan Capistrano ($20 per person). Those trains only stop southbound in San Clemente in the morning.
- ARRIVE back in North Beach, San Clemente, at either 4:15 pm or 7:00 pm.
You don’t have to use a bicycle to enjoy CicLAvia, but if you don’t own a bicycle and would like to rent one, here are your options:
- Rent a bicycle in North Beach. Owner Pete van Nuys is making bikes available for CicLAvia on Saturday late afternoon for you to keep overnight and bring to the Metrolink Station on Sunday morning. You can either return the bicycle to his shop Sunday when you get off the train or Monday morning. Just ask for the CicLAvia Special!
- Rent a bicycle at CicLAvia. Most of the rental options are at the Coast Hwy end of the CicLAvia route and the official CicLAvia site recommends advance reservations. Here’s the FAQ link(scroll to the bottom).
If you’d like to read about what last October’s event was like and look at the 70+ photos I snapped, here’s the link to my Speaking of Spokes Blog on Patch.
Feel free to email me if you have questions or would like to meet me at the North Beach station on Sunday. I’ll be wearing a fluorescent orange shirt and Foxy will be harnessed in her basket.
See you there!