Bicycles ride past Mariachi Plaza on the 1st Street Green Bike Lanes. Mariachi Plaza is one of the first stops in the proposed Boyle Heights expansion that has been stalled for the past year. / Photo from LADOT Bike Blog
Originally published in LA Streetsblog
For CicLAvia, figuring out how, when and where to expand has been its biggest challenge. While CicLAvia is free to attend, it costs a lot of money to push past the current 10-mile route, closing streets to cars, providing police support and re-routing car drivers who find entrences and exits from the freeway blocked. Despite CicLAvia’s success, money to expand has been hard to find.
Yet, CicLAvia is working with what they have. At a CicLAvia board of trustees meeting last week, trustees decided the existing route would be cut at certain parts in order to accommodate an expansion in other parts. Bobby Gadda, CicLAvia board of trustee president, said that CicLAvia expansion on First Street to Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights would be in the draft route the board will send to the city next week for the next CicLAvia in October.
“(We’re) pretty committed and looking to make it happen,” said Gadda about the Boyle Heights expansion.
Currently, LADOT provides services for the 10-mile route but can’t provide for more coverage. If miles were to be added, CicLAvia would need to hire contractors to manage the same services LADOT would do, adding an extra cost to their budget, Gadda added.
For an event that has after four CicLAvia, with media outlets saying each brought out more than 100,000 participants, it remains in a precarious financial state.
“We’re back to zero in terms of funding,” said Gadda going into this October’s CicLAvia.
Yet, CicLAvia hasn’t been deterred in planning for future routes. With no staff and relying on the efforts of contractors, CicLAvia volunteers and trustees, its outreach into communities creates expectations that the ride will come. These expectations have yet to be realized, causing frustration and doubt from community members.
“Over a year . . . (the expansion) hasn’t happened,” said Leon Arellano, co-founding member of Corazon del Pueblo, one of the spaces that hosted the Boyle Heights expansion meetings. “It puts the commitment into question.”
Three communities vie for CicLAvia expansion, South L.A., Chinatown and Boyle Heights. Each community boasts some success and experienced some failure.The route ended up short in its attempt to enter Chinatown, currently the El Pueblo hub, and South Los Angeles. The route from April and last October’s CicLAvia ended right before entering South LA. In South Los Angeles, LADOT and Metro prevented the expansion because the proposed route would pose a danger when it passes through the Blue Line Light Rail tracks.
Joe Linton, former community-organizing coordinator for CicLAvia, said that initially after the first CicLAvia, they believed they would be able to double the route. CicLAvia organizers quickly found out the expansion for future CicLAvias would only add an extra one or two miles from one event to the next because funding was tighter than they (thought) it would be, Linton added.
One proposed route for the Boyle Heights expansion goes as far as Whittier Boulevard at the Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles border. While a Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles CicLAvia hub doesn’t look like it will become a reality soon, even incremental offshoots such as expanding to Mariachi Plaza this past April were halted.
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