Imagining Los Angeles without cars

i Nov 6th 6 Comments by

BikeSD reader, Travis, sent us this story from the L.A. Times. The story is about a group called cicLAvia, playing on the original name ciclovía, who wants to shut down major thoroughfares in Los Angles once a week and turn it into “a town where people ride their bikes and walk in the streets and the smells of tacos and veggie burgers drift through the air instead of exhaust.” A pipe dream? Hardly. The idea originally began “thirty years ago as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets” in Bogotá, Colombia.

If there is one thing Southern California is known for, besides the year round perfect weather, it is smog and the car-entrenched culture. But can Los Angelenos and San Diegans imagine life outside the automobile?

The idea of ciclovía came from the former Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who decided to subscribe to the economic model of hedonics, a philosophy whose proponents focus on fostering not economic growth but human happiness. After being elected Peñalosa said,

A city can be friendly to people or it can be friendly to cars, but it can’t be both,” the new mayor announced. He shelved the highway plans and poured the billions saved into parks, schools, libraries, bike routes and the world’s longest “pedestrian freeway.

So what does it look like on that one day a week that major thoroughfares go back to the people? Watch the Streetsfilm video below.

We’re very excited about what cicLAvia is doing and are inspired to try bringing those ideas to San Diego.

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  • Larry Hogue

    Hey, thanks for posting this! In addition to the cities mentioned above, New York and San Francisco have Ciclovias, which are called Sunday Streets. New York shuts down miles of Park Ave. for several Sundays each summer. It’s been very popular with the people, and many businesses love it. StreetFilms has clips on both San Francisco and New York.

    Imagine if we did the same thing on 6th ave from the Gaslamp to Hillcrest. Or Washington/El Cajon Blvd. from Normal Heights to Hillcrest. Or Adams Ave. from Kensington to Park Blvd.

    There has already been some talk about trying to get a Ciclovia/Sunday Streets for San Diego.

    If you’re on LinkedIn, there’s a San Diego Sunday Streets group that I started — haven’t done much with it yet.
    (Actually just noticed that LinkedIn deletes old discussions, so there’s no content on the group page right now.)

    There’s also a group at Facebook, created by Michael Brennan, which I’d recommend as an even better venue for organization or discussion:

    I’m hoping people will join the Facebook group, or leave comments here.

    What we need is a leader, or a core of people, to take on the job of organizing an event (or series of events) like this. The existing organizations are pretty tapped out as far as time and resources, but some of their leaders have expressed interest in mentoring Sunday Streets organizers, especially with how to navigate City Hall.

    Larry “bikes and peds rule” Hogue

  • KK

    It’s amazing. If we were to do a ciclovia in San Diego, where should it be? How about closing Harbor Drive from Broadway down to Civic Center in National City? How about closing Park from University to Petco Park? Maybe a downtown loop – C, Park, G, Union?

  • Sam

    Larry: On the forums, there was some discussion of shutting down 30th Street for an extended walkabout. Either me or someone else suggested extending the closet streets as a corridor into the Gaslamp district to attract tourists and thus bring more business into the area. Autos will still be able to get around via detours and the 163/Upas/Market and other parallel streets.

    If successful, we could extend the corridor into University Heights and Hillcrest and collect hard data on how much extra business the SD cyclovia would bring in.

    I’m very interested in organizing something like this, but would like moral support, practical ideas, and a way to present it so that the detractors are few and the consensus large.

  • Larry Hogue


    Great to hear your interest in a Ciclovia for San Diego! I responded to beany over on the forum (in the Advocacy thread) and created a new thread called Ciclovia/Sunday Streets.

    As I said over there, I think it’s time for a physical meetup of all the people who are interested in getting this thing going. We can do it the old way, via building an e-mail list. Or maybe you have experience with or some other newfangled method? I’ve never used that before.

    You can send me an e-mail at the address associated with my account, or to this one:
    lahogue AT gmail DOT com.

    Also, please check out the Facebook page. Makes it easy to communicate back and forth, both individually and to the whole group.

  • Great idea! We definitely want to be apart of helping to organize the first Ciclovia in San Diego.

    One of our writers has helped “plant the seed,” so to speak, in the minds of students at UCSD’s Oil & The Future of America senior seminar. He’s been invited a number of times to do presentations on the case for bicycle-friendly cities before the students and professor.

    Let’s do this! Bic Control definitely supports this idea %100 and we will attend an in-person meeting, as long as we know about the event in time.

    Thank you Sam, Larry, KK, and Bike San Diego for getting the discussion going! We’re super excited for this new San Diego livable streets online community that has recently flourished!

    Let’s all get together. our email is biccontrol AT gmail DOT com

    Thanks again!

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