When Les Golan goes for a walk or to the park, she takes her cockatiels.
And when she participates in CicLAvia, she takes her cockatiels – all 19 of them.
“I enjoy the company and I want to give them a really good quality of life,” said Golan, 57, who rode the subway with her birds from her home in the east San Fernando Valley to downtown to participate Saturday in her seventh CicLAvia.
Her beloved cockatiels are like family, Golan says, noting that she refers to them as her “pups.” All but one of the birds are named after a musician or a singer – the matriarch and patriarch are Billie Holiday and Thelonious Monk, said the music teacher. Others are Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
“I don’t want them just sitting in a cage,” Golan said of why she takes her birds everywhere. They are like her family, she said.
“Before I had them I never knew people could love their pets so much,” said Golan, who got her first bird six years ago. The birds are perched on her shoulders, chest and neck as she rides.
“They’re pretty special and they make people smile everywhere I go,” she said.
Golan was among thousands participating in the seventh CicLAvia, a recurring car-free event. For this incarnation, a 6.3-mile stretch of Wilshire is closed to cars between Grand and Fairfax avenues until 4 p.m. to allow for bicyclists, roller skaters, in-line skaters, skate boarders and pedestrians to take over the big boulevard.
The event’s organizers have called the route the most pedestrian-friendly of any CicLAvia. For the first time, there are pedestrian-only zones at the beginning and end of the route. Those areas feature activities including Pilates, belly-dance classes and bicycle helmet decoration.
Previous events drew as many as 100,000 cyclists and pedestrians. The $350,000 cost to stage each event is picked up by a nonprofit, CicLAvia, and the city, which uses state and federal money. The goal of the nonprofit is to encourage public health, mass transit and vibrant use of public space through car-free street events.