CicLAvia, the nonprofit that stages popular car-free events on major Los Angeles streets, has received a $500,000 grant to hold more events over the next two years, the organization told The Times. 

The grant from the Wasserman Foundation is CicLAvia's largest to date. During each daylong event, one or more major streets are closed to cars but kept open to bicyclists and pedestrians.

"This pledge is an affirmation of our commitment to enhance and expand CicLAvia throughout the Los Angeles landscape in the coming years," Aaron Paley, the group's executive director, said in a statement.

CicLAvia has quickly gained support for its events, which began three years ago as a way to encourage public spaces, healthy habits and mass transit. The festivals are inspired by Bogota, Colombia's weekly ciclovia (Spanish for "bike path") events, which began more than three decades ago and have been adopted by several other cities in Latin America and the United States.

The next CicLAvia, "Heart of LA," will take place Oct. 6. A network of roads connecting MacArthur Park, Chinatown, downtown and Boyle Heights will close from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., including 7th Street, Spring Street and North Broadway.

The first seven CicLAvias drew as many as 100,000 cyclists and pedestrians. Each CicLAvia costs between $300,000 and $450,000, funded through a combination of public money and private donations.

Major costs include facilities along the route, including restrooms, as well as street-closure fees and stipends for the Los Angeles Police Department and Transportation Department officials who manage intersections where cars pass through.

"CicLAvia represents the type of innovative approach we need to move Los Angeles forward," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "It helps us experience our city in a unique, car-free way while bringing together people of different social, cultural, economic and geographic backgrounds."

The Wasserman Foundation is a charity founded in 1952 by studio executive Lew Wasserman. It is now run by his grandson, entertainment and sports executive Casey Wasserman

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laura.nelson@latimes.com