CicLAvia Flowed Smoothly on Los Angeles Streets April 15, 2012

Wheeled transport of all kinds joins CicLAvia bicyclers passing through Little Tokyo.

The Next CicLAvia is Sunday, October 7, 2012.

Discover LA by Metro:

We Took a Sunday Stroll Through LA with CicLAvia

Stately homes along 4th Street give CicLAvia participants a sense of the history of Boyle Heights.

Sunday’s CicLAvia — LA’s fourth, our third — seemed even more successful than its predecessors in operational smoothness and participants’ enthusiasm. It was a beautiful LA day, and everyone gave up on doing taxes to come out and enjoy LA’s biggest citywide block party.

CicLAvia overflows Spring Street near City Hall.

Despite the Dodgers home game and the Lakers fans pouring into Staples Center, there was no honking traffic in downtown. The car-free streets hummed with the whisper of wind through bike spokes.

Despite attending three CicLAvia events, we’ve never finished the entire 10-mile route — we stop and take too many photos along the way! (What would you expect from a pair of photographers?)

For each CicLAvia, we hop on Metro and go to a different starting point along the route. For us, each event is about discovering another neighborhood.

This time, we started at the Metro Gold Line Mariachi Plaza Metro station in one of our favorite parts of the city: Boyle Heights.

We strolled past stately homes on Boyle that reflect the history of the neighborhood. As we turned east on 4th Street toward the Hollenbeck Park hub, a merchant playing festive music greeted CicLAvia-ers with “Welcome to Boyle Heights, the good ’hood! Good because we treat you so good!” And this neighborhood really does roll out the welcome mat.

As with the previous CicLAvias, the mood was festive all over our city — it’s a big street fair. Everywhere people smiled at, waved to, and conversed with strangers turned friends.

Hollenbeck Park is an urban oasis for CicLAvia participants.

We’d not been to Hollenbeck Park before. What a gem — a beautiful lake amid grassy knolls. For CicLAvia, food trucks offered good variety from burgers to cool desserts. Additional CicLAvia activities included a free climbing rock, that lured those not tired out by the ride, and community booths offering first aid, bike repair, and information.

CicLAvia offers a great view of DTLA from 4th Street near Boyle.

We resisted the food trucks and headed back to Mariachi Plaza to catch the action. Boyle Heights welcomed CicLAvia with the Mariachi Festival at Mariachi Plaza. We enjoyed the music and crafts, then had wonderful pupusas at Un Solo Sol Kitchen on the plaza, and visited with our friends at Libros Schmibros, a unique used bookstore and neighborhood lending library.

We didn’t want to leave this good ’hood, but more good ’hood CicLAvia sites and sights beckoned. Hopping back on the Gold Line, we headed for Little Tokyo and an easy stroll to City Hall, where one of the street pianos of the “Play Me, I’m Yours” art project was drawing a crowd despite the loud music just a block away.

A street piano from the “Play Me, I’m Yours” art/music installation catches the attention of CicLAvia goers.

One of the joys of CicLAvia is that you can start and stop whenever and wherever you want, and do it on your own schedule. This is not a race — it’s streets turned into open space. Seeing the city streets filled with cyclists, skaters, pedestrians, etc. is indescribably wonderful. It’s democracy in action.

Bicycles parked in Little Tokyo provide shade for a young rider.

There are many great views to be appreciated, because of both the pedestrian/bike perspective and the slowed-down pace of the day.

To get more of the feel of CicLAvia, see our adventures from April and posts featuring the October, 2011 event.

If you’ve never been to CicLAvia, you must plan on joining the fun in the fall — Sunday, October7, 2012.

Skaters join CicLAvia bicyclers on 4th Street near Hollenbeck Park.

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