April 27, 2017

When CicLAvia is Your Normal

ciclaviaOn Sunday I loaded my son in his bike trailer and pedaled down to Main Street—not so we could ride in CicLAvia but so I could get him to his weekly Aikido lesson. Sure, Sunday’s CicLAvia was one of the biggest public events ever held in Los Angeles, with more than 100,000 people biking over 15 miles of streets closed to car traffic. But our building sits directly on the bike route and six CicLAvias in, it’s not a must-do event anymore. In fact, it’s not really an event for us at all but more something that’s part of the rhythm of our lives downtown.

CicLAvia is special for people in LA first and foremost because it puts cars in second place—a huge deal in a city where car has been king for the past 60 years. But living in DTLA means you’re living in a community that almost defines itself in opposition to the car. We have bike lanes (no matter how much FilmLA bitches about it) and a 52% increase in bike traffic downtown as a result. People here also use public transportation and their own two feet every day to commute, shop and have fun (it’s great walking to a bar knowing you can have as much to drink as you like without worrying about killing someone on the way home) ETA: Maybe Reese Witherspoon should move downtown.

Something else that’s special about CicLAvia is the diversity—Silverlake hipsters rub shoulders with bike clubs from South LA, East LA lowriders, and Valley suburbanites. But if you’re living downtown, you encounter that level of racial, social and economic diversity every day. Diversity isn’t something you have to seek out—it smacks you in the face every time you step out your front door.

While I don’t feel like I have to ride in every CicLAvia anymore, I’m really excited that the event has blown up so hugely (almost too hugely, really, since it was wheel-to-wheel traffic from DTLA to Venice). I think it’s signalling a huge change in our culture. People are hungry for community, for connection—the kind of connection that’s impossible when you’re flying down a road at 60 mph. I have the luxury of taking for granted something that’s become a precious commodity to the rest of the city.

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About Alisa Rivera

Alisa is a writer whose work has been featured in the Oregonian, the Syracuse Post-Standard, Latina magazine and other publications. She has also had her short fiction published in the Berkely Fiction Review and Iris: A Journal About Women. Alisa and her husband, James Hightower, have been happily raising their son, Nathan, in downtown Los Angeles since 2008. You can learn more about Alisa's work at www.alisarivera.com.