CicLAvia participants a varied group with a love for cycling

Scott Desposato and his family came from San Diego to participate in CicLAvia.
Scott Desposato and his family came from San Diego to participate in CicLAvia.
(Alicia Banks/Los Angeles Times)

Scott Desposato was 22 when he and a group of friends biked across the country. They started in San Diego and finished in Washington, D.C.

The cross-country trek not only benefited a fundraiser but had a life-long effect on Desposato. The 46-year-old commutes to and from work every day.

“There’s an incredible sense of freedom when you’re on a bike and not in a car,” he said. “One day, I saw a whale off the coast in San Diego. You don’t get to see that in your car.”


Desposato is now passing on his love for biking to his children.

The UC San Diego political science professor on Sunday ventured to CicLAvia in downtown Los Angeles with his daughter, 6-year-old Gabriela, and 5-year-old twins, Luke and Sebastian. The twins sat behind Desposato on a modified bike for three.

Their day started at 6:30 a.m., driving from San Diego to the cycling event.

As the family rested for a few minutes on North Spring Street after noon, Gabriela waited to lead them to their next destination--a mariachi performance. She grinned as she stood next to her purple bike, sporting biker shorts and a sparkly pink helmet.

“She’s our leader,” Desposato said. “She’s my biking partner. She can easily bike 30 miles in a day. She’s a rock star.”

By 2 p.m., the family had biked about seven miles, stopping to enjoy tacos and gelato from a food truck. Biking is how the Desposato family bonds.

“It’s a great way for them to experience the world,” Desposato said about his children. “It’s always something special when you ride.”

Martin Svatek, 28, is not new to biking or CicLAvia.

The Austrian native, who sported lederhosen, a traditional Austrian garment, has been biking since about the age of 3.

“You can’t really compare Austria to L.A.,” he said. “There’s a lot less traffic there - it’s more disciplined but more bike friendly. Things are, of course, not as vast (as L.A.). It’s very difficult to get people to bike here because of the distances.”

As a Westwood resident, Svatek said he tries to bike to work every day – about seven miles - because he finds West L.A. a bit more bike friendly. However, as a third-time participant of CicLAvia, Svatek said he thinks the event is a nice way to get people out on their bikes in downtown.

“The crowds that this brings out every time shows there’s a lot of potential for having people cycle more,” he said. “There are people that actually want to bike.”

Svatek said he hopes the event gets people to use their cars less and their bikes more.

“It is in the process of happening,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential in L.A., and people see it.”

From triathlons to trails, Lee Hinton, 55, has spent more than 20 years biking around Los Angeles.

Hinton, a Chicago native, sees CicLAvia as a place to promote bike safety and good health, which he said are very important to him.

As a downtown resident, Hinton has seen much change in the biking culture of L.A. Twenty years ago, Hinton said there were far fewer bike lanes in downtown, making it inconvenient to maneuver the streets.

“I don’t want to say it was hostile…but now, with bike lanes, I think drivers become more conscious,” he said. “They could use some more (bike lanes) on Vermont Ave. though.”

As far as the future goes, Hinton said, L.A. will “most definitely” become more of a bike city.

“I think we are doing OK compared to some other cities,” he said. “I’m happy with the progress I see.”

ALSO:For some, CicLAvia is a family event

Dangerous fire conditions continue through Sunday

Woman apparently killed by Buena Park police car identified