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CicLAvia: Cyclists, pedestrians rediscover Wilshire Boulevard

Monica Jeffries, 40, and Quincy Jeffries, 42, of Canyon Country, and their friend. Dennis Hauswirth, 62, of Brentwood, ride their trikkes during CicLAvia on Wilshire Boulevard. (Hailey Branson-Potts/LA Times.)
(Hailey Branson-Potts / Los Angeles Times)

Quincy and Monica Jeffries had never seen Wilshire Boulevard so quiet. They smiled as they gazed up at the blue-green façade of the Wiltern theater while waiting for CicLAvia to begin.

“You just drive by and you don’t recognize all the beautiful buildings,” Monica Jeffries, 40, said.

The Jeffries, a married couple, drove from Canyon Country in Santa Clarita to participate in CicLAvia on vehicles called trikkes — three-wheeled bike-like vehicles with no pedals. Riders use their entire bodies to steer and maneuver them. The Jeffries have been riding trikkes for about two years and have participated in multiple CicLAvias.

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Monica’s sister lives near Wilshire and Western, and Monica was excited to see the typically busy street closed.

“We’re so busy in our lives going through traffic,” said Monica, a social worker who was wearing a Hello Kitty top and a white helmet. Quincy, 42, a supervisor for a home goods import and export company, wore bright yellow shorts and a yellow shirt.

One man walked by and scrunched his brow, looking at the bus stop. He asked Quincy if there was some kind of bike event and if the buses would be running.

“The street’s closed,” Quincy said. He added, with a smile, “Wilshire! Closed!”

As the first bikers trickled through shortly after 9 a.m., some sported biking spandex and rode with focus. One man’s brown dog ran alongside him. Another man in a luminous yellow T-shirt shirt had a young girl in a matching shirt riding tandem behind him. He peddled quickly and looked ahead as she looked around at the Korean barbecue restaurants they were passing.

One woman on a blue bike passed, talking to a friend behind her. “I hardly use this bike!” she yelled, ringing her bike bell and smiling.

Thousands were expected to turn out Sunday to participate in the seventh CicLAvia, a recurring car-free event. A 6.3-mile stretch of Wilshire is closed to cars between Grand and Fairfax avenues from 9 a.m. to 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 will be pedestrian-only zones at the beginning and end of the route. Those areas will feature activities including Pilates, belly-dance classes and bicycle helmet decoration.

The 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.

For cars, there will be four crossing points along Wilshire: at Alvarado Street and Vermont, Western and La Brea avenues.

The event is part of the Getty Museum’s “Pacific Standard Time Presents,” a collection of exhibitions and events that examine post-World War II architecture and design in Los Angeles.

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hailey.branson@latimes.com


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