Walking, Biking – Even Skateboarding — People Took to the Streets Today Without Their Cars

Biking on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood

People of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, and abilities took to major streets without cars for seven hours today to participate in CicLAvia’s “Meet the Hollywoods.”

“From EaHo to WeHo,” is how Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti described the 6.5-mile route during an opening ceremony

on Santa Monica Boulevard at the Metro bus garage in West Hollywood. The route extended along Santa Monica from its intersection with San Vicente Boulevard on the west to Highland Avenue on the east. Highland was carless from Santa Monica Boulevard north to Hollywood Boulevard, and then Hollywood Boulevard was free of car traffic east to its intersection with Vermont Avenue

State Assemblymember Laura Friedman, whose 43rd Assembly District includes part of the route, called out the health advantages of reducing automobile tailpipe emissions, an issue that environmentally friendly California is still struggling to deal with. Cycling should be something experienced routinely by everyone she said. “It’s not just for the Spandex wearing health nuts.”

The event itself might have briefly improved the air quality in West Hollywood. A study by UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Healthfound that an October 2014 CicLAvia event held in and around downtown Los Angeles reduced the presence of ultrafine air particles by 21% and that readings for particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or smaller declined by 49%. In addition, measurements on other streets in the neighborhoods that hosted the event (even though those streets were still open to traffic) were 12% lower on the day of the event, compared with non-event days. Among cities in the United States ranked on the “most polluted” list in the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report, the Los Angeles-Long Beach area this year ranked first for ozone levels, fifth for year-round particle pollution, and seventh for short-term particle pollution. For 19 of the 20 years that the ALA has done the ranking, Los Angeles has ranked No. 1 in overall poor air quality, with serious consequences for heart and lung health.

Other elected officials who turned out for the opening ceremony included Assemblymember Richard Bloom, whose 50th District includes West Hollywood, WeHo Mayor John D’Amico and City Council members John Heilman, Lindsey Horvath, and Lauren Meister. Horvath in 2015 proposed that the city seek a grant from the L.A. Metropolitan Transportation Authority to fund the event. The Council voted in May to contribute $233,000 to Metro’s $500,000 allocation. Councilmember John Duran, who spoke out against the CicLAvia event at a May 20 City Council meeting did not attend today’s event. In explaining his opposition to the event, Duran said: “I think it’s an incredible burden on our residents and their ability to travel freely on a Sunday in the summer.”

The event was the 30th put on by CicLAvia since 2010. CicLAvia is a non-profit organization that promotes car-free streets and “connects communities to each other across an expansive city, creating a safe place to bike, walk, skate, roll, and dance through Los Angeles County.” Today’s event was heavily promoted by the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition, a local bicycle advocacy group.

Most of those exploring West Hollywood and Hollywood today did so on bicycles, although there also were more than a few electric bikes and electric scooters and the occasional hip, young guy or gal on a motorized skateboard or other one-wheel motorized devices, apparent albeit minor violations of the ban on motorized vehicles. There also were parents pushing baby carriages or guiding their children carefully on small bikes, and people with special needs slowly spinning down the boulevards and avenues on specially designed bicycles and tricycles. And then there were those who walked.

CicLAvia had reached out to local businesses that might be impacted by the street closing. While it is unclear at this point whether any were affected, some appeared to have benefitted from it, with dozens of bicycles clustered outside Shake Shake and Starbucks on Santa Monica between Westmount and La Cienega.

While the event itself ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., streets were closed to cars from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with nine points for cars to cross the route.

  1. I was irritated by the whole idea of shutting down the main artery of our city for a whole day. I am also just recovering from a foot surgery and cannot walk very far or ride a bike. The only way I could have gotten around is by possibly using an Ebike which was banned. To me this is a huge violation of the ADA Act. What about motorized wheel chairs and scooters? Are those banned too? I was able to walk down to the Boulevard to see it, I was pleasantly suprised by the turnout. It felt almost surreal to see nothing but pedaled (and many e vehicles that were technically banned) and people walking. My initial reaction to having this has changed and I hope to participate in the next one, I’m sure by then I’ll be able to ride a bike. But this rule about no e motorized vehicles that are not cars has to be changed to accommodate those that are not capable of riding a bike or walking long distances. If this has been going on for ten years the organizers should have addressed this years ago.

    1. AARP arranged for free pedicab rides (but I guess folks still have to get to them …), which were designed to increase mobility options. While it was incredible and far better than motor-vehicle clogged streets, it does seem like a bit more could be done to ensure it is truly accessible to all (maybe having a phone number for pick-ups for pedicabs and/or making available low-speed motorized options for those with mobility challenges). Reaching out to the local AARP — who were sponsors — might be a good way to try to improve that, and I may do so myself.

      I’m not sure what the policy re: motorized wheelchairs is, but it would be outrageous if they were not allowed.

      1. I just found this on Ciclavia’s FAQ. Unfortunately, e-scooters aren’t available in WeHo for rent, but they are in LA.

        Is CicLAvia accessible to those with disabilities?
        Yes! CicLAvia utilizes the infrastructure of the city of Los Angeles, so participants can enter or exit anywhere along the route, making use of city streets, ramps and sidewalks. When facilities are added to the route (restrooms, water areas), we make every effort to make these ADA compliant.

        Participants with mobility limitations are welcome to use motorized wheelchairs, scooters, pedal-assist bikes, and adaptive bicycles. There are minimal inclines along each route and any portion deemed steep will have proper signage. While steep areas and congested areas are usually mandatory dismount zones, participants unable to dismount are not required to do so. Service animals are welcome.


  2. I personally don’t like the event because it does make it hard to get around. However, they close the streets for other events I like so I will take the good with the bad. Hope everyone had fun.

  3. It’s important to understand that under California vehicle code, an electrical bicycle is not considered a “motorized vehicle” (with some caveats like motor size/top speed/etc.) It’s a fine distinction, but an important one, and it’s been a point of contention with the CivlaVia management that they continue to stigmatize e-bikes rather than embrace this rapidly growing segment of riders. E-bikes are mostly used by people who want to commute to work without having to get sweaty and shower/change clothes, or who have some kind of physical challenges that preclude them enjoying a pedal-only bicycle. One of my customers who happily participated in this Ciclavia is a 70+ yo woman who has COPD and has to carry around an oxygen tank. She would not have been able to join her family in this experience without the assist of her e-bike. But she had to break the rules to do so. We hope CiclaVia will reconsider their position on e-assist bikes and other micro-mobility devices.

    1. Good news! Ciclavia’s FAQ says they’re allowed:

      Participants with mobility limitations are welcome to use motorized wheelchairs, scooters, pedal-assist bikes, and adaptive bicycles. There are minimal inclines along each route and any portion deemed steep will have proper signage. While steep areas and congested areas are usually mandatory dismount zones, participants unable to dismount are not required to do so. Service animals are welcome.


  4. John Duran opposed the community event CicLAVia because it’s a burden to residents who can’t travel freely but has no problem with SM Blvd blocked off for Pride and Halloween. Sounds fair. We can’t give up WEHO streets for one day in the 10+ years of CicLAVia but as long as its events he’s interested in, block up those same streets so residents can’t travel freely.

    1. I agree, I think his attitude towards this event was very immature. He was free to make his opinion known at the council meeting, which he did. But he could have shown up and supported the city and the other council members. Instead, he complained on his facebook and came out looking very negative. Nothing new for him though – sadly.

  5. Well attended event for sure. Weather was great. Was nice to explore WeHo this time around too. Businesses that were open like the Shake Shack and the cafe at the car wash were extra busy.

  6. This event was worth every cent the city spent to support it. Bravo to Councilmembers D’Amico, Horvath, Meister and Heilman for the big-picture approach they took to this event. As to Duran, his absence spoke resoundingly of his thin-skinned approach to his political battles. Shame on him.

      1. I don’t make a habit of responding to anonymous replies, but that’s my point–he voted against it and declined to participate. Political petulance? I note that Mr. D’Amico voted against the reading of the Mueller Report, and Ms. Meister abstained, but they both showed up to support it, both have civic pride above ego.

  7. I’m proud of the hosting of this event. It’s a great summer activity. I like the west Hollywood inclusion. Promotion of better health through exercise and clean air.
    It’s a win for everyone. Lots of kids riding with parents…. community involvement…inclusion as we preach…
    So much separation in the world, its great that people from all backgrounds and ages can share the love with a healthy event in a safe environment.
    Thank you to BIKES & HIKES on Santa Monica blvd. WEHO…for providing bikes and involvement.

    1. Agreed. This was a community of all of L.A. Anyone who complains is a goof. Sure a few road closures required a few extra minutes but nothing as insane as Pride and Halloween. Let us have this event again.

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