CicLAvia wants to be a regular fixture on the Los Angeles calendar.
Organizers of the popular open-streets festival for cyclists and pedestrians, modeled on programs in Latin American cities, are planning three events for 2014, including a first route through South Los Angeles.
Aaron Paley, CicLAvia’s executive director, also said in an interview Wednesday that the group is planning an event in the San Fernando Valley for the first time in early 2015, as well as routes outside Los Angeles city limits.
But the bigger news is some new detail on CicLAvia’s longer-term ambitions.
Thanks to new foundation funding and a commitment from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to pay for a range of open-streets events -- including some not organized by CicLAvia -- the group hopes that such festivals will become monthly in L.A. County by 2017. CicLAvia aims to hold nine routes that year and envisions another three planned by other cities around the county with Metro’s help.
“We have a path to get to one event per month,” Paley said.
That expansion is significant not just for CicLAvia but for Los Angeles and its civic ambition. As the city slowly builds a mass-transit network and tries to move past its dependence on the car, events like CicLAvia have played a revelatory role and given Angelenos a chance to see the city and its architecture with fresh eyes.
But their temporary nature has limited their long-term impact. What Southern California needs now are some efforts to make changes to the design of its streets permanent, or at least more regular and predictable on the calendar.
The recent news that Pasadena will redesign sections of Colorado Boulevard to make it friendlier to pedestrians is one sign of progress in that direction, building on changes to the Eagle Rock stretch of Colorado, which until recently operated as a miniature freeway that was actively unfriendly to pedestrians and cyclists.
So are new public spaces like the Sunset Triangle Plaza in Silver Lake, which closed a short block to car traffic and was inexpensively redesigned by the firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios.
A CicLAvia planned every month in L.A. County, even if the route moved from event to event, would help cement some of the tentative signs that a more public and connected Los Angeles is emerging.
“This has really captured the imagination of the city,” Paley said of CicLAvia. “It has taken off like a rocket. And from an administrative point of view we’re just catching up with that.”
CicLAvia’s budget has increased more than tenfold since the event was launched in 2010, to a figure this year of $1.4 million. The projected budget for next year is $3 million. Attendance at CicLAvias has increased nearly as quickly.
Paley, describing the recent growth as "exponential," called 2014 "a key year for us. Before we were riding the wave from event to event. We’d do one and sit back and think, 'How soon can we raise enough money to do another?'"
Now, he said, the goal is to extend the planning calendar much further into the future and become more strategic about fundraising goals and partnerships with city and county officials.
He also wants to keep adjusting the design of CicLAvia routes to make pedestrians feel as welcome as cyclists, who were the first to embrace the event. Recent CicLAvias have included sizable pedestrian plazas where cyclists are asked to walked their bikes.
This year CicLAvia will be held on three Sundays. It will return to Wilshire Boulevard on April 6 and follow a new route linking Echo Park, downtown and East Los Angeles on Oct. 5.
The final event of the year, on Dec. 7, will trace a route through South Los Angeles, including stretches on Leimert Boulevard, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Central Avenue.
In addition to receiving new funding last year from the Wasserman Foundation and the Rosenthal Family Foundation, CicLAvia has been attracting larger gifts from individuals. Paley said a nameless donor mailed the group a check for $500,000 just before Christmas.
“This is a truly anonymous gift,” Paley said. “It just came in the mail. I couldn’t quite believe it.”
He paused. “And the check cleared.”
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