CicLAvia tests the waters in South L.A.

Feb. 8, 2011, 11:40 a.m.

Volunteers bike from SAJE on 32nd and Hill down to Watts Towers on 103rd Street to map out new routes for June's proposed South L.A. leg.

Last October, the LA Times reported over 100,000 people came out on a quiet Sunday to walk, bike, yoga and play across 7.5 miles of blocked-off streets. From Boyle Heights to Santa Monica, the route opened up the streets to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the day’s success opened the door for more CicLAvia days in 2011.

CicLAvia’s planners aren’t just looking to repeat that success: they’ve started sending teams of biking volunteers to map out new routes connecting the established route to other slices of L.A. On Superbowl Sunday, about a dozen bikers mapped out possible roads from 7th Avenue all the way down Central Avenue to the iconic Watts Towers around 103rd Street.

If all goes well, the South L.A. leg will be available for the June 12 CicLAvia, but not for the next event on April 10. Planners with the nonprofit CicLAvia will need that time to meet with local businesses and other nonprofits to determine which route will serve South L.A. best. The ideal route will be accessible to the public and offer the right mix of storefronts to benefit from the foot and pedal traffic.

“There’s a lot of parts of LA that are densely populated,” said Colleen Corcoran, a CicLAvia board member. “There’s nowhere for people to congregate outside.”

“And feel safe,” said Maritza Calayatud of All Peoples Christian Center.

This is especially important for South L.A., not only to provide open space but to fight the bad rap the area gets in the media, said Andres Ramirez, a tenant organizer for Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE). SAJE is one of the nonprofits working with CicLAvia, along with All Peoples Christian Center, which will promote the event to local schools to involve students.

“[CicLAvia] connects different parts of L.A.” Corcoran said. “There are people from downtown and Hollywood who never come to South L.A., they think it’s dangerous.”

Calayatud echoed Ramirez' concern for South L.A.'s image, saying bringing other Angelenos here will help to break stereotypes of the area.

CicLAvia coordinated with local bike shops to organize rental bikes for October’s event and they’re working to get bike shops on board that will be closer to the South L.A. leg.

CicLAvia will be holding a meeting open to the community on February 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The findings from both this ride and the previous exploratory ride in January will be addressed. This meeting, along with meetings planned for the third Wednesday of each month, will be held at SAJE on 152 West 32nd Street.

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