Los Angeles Times | 11/5/2009 12:00:00 AM
Imagine: L.A. bicyclists in the driver's seat, one day a week
Nov 5--A group called cicLAvia wants to close major L.A. thoroughfares to cars and open them to bicyclists on Sundays. City officials are looking for ways to support the plan, which originated in Colombia.
Sound like a pipe dream? Not if a group called cicLAvia is successful. A volunteer coalition of bicycle advocates, transportation experts, artists and academics, cicLAvia wants to make Sundays in Los Angeles virtually car-free -- transforming the city's streets into giant bike lanes and creating a public space that connects every neighborhood in the city.
"This city is so park poor, and so car dependent," says cicLAvia member and director of the Green L.A. Institute Jonathan Parfrey. "Air pollution is awful and childhood obesity is epidemic. But building new parks for people to get out of their cars and exercise can be prohibitively expensive. We want to create public space using the infrastructure we already have - our roads."
The idea, called a "ciclovia," isn't new. A phenomenon across Latin America, the ciclovia was born in the Colombian city of Bogota 30 years ago. Car-choked and polluted, Bogota's geography and sprawl very much mirrors that of Los Angeles. But every Sunday in Bogota, the city's major avenues are shut down to cars and hundreds of thousands of cyclists take to the streets. CicLAvia wants to replicate that success in Los Angeles - a city not exactly known for being bicycle-friendly.
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