Today the City of Los Angeles held its fourth annual CicLAvia event. Modeled after a Bogota, Columbia event, CicLAvia consists of the city closing miles (today, ten miles) of surface streets in and around Downtown L.A. to motor vehicle traffic; providing traffic cops (along with volunteers) to control intersections with streets carrying cars; and allowing bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and pedestrians to ride through the streets.
I parked in a pay lot right next to the route (surprisingly they were charging only $5 and had spaces available) at 3rd and Spring in downtown, and then rode out. I had intended to only ride around downtown; but ended up riding the route nearly to Hollywood. The route was easy (the hills weren't nasty), the density of bike traffic mandated a low-speed pace, and the sheer joy, bordering on giddiness, of the other riders carried me along.
The fabled L.A. road rage was nowhere to be seen. Riders were courteous, making room for each other on the street. There were power riders, kids with training wheels, bikes with trailers (some carrying sound systems booming away). There were riders of all ages, races, and economic strata. One rider who was a double amputee passed me, pedaling his bike with his hands. Some folks were in costume, others road custom bikes.
The folks along the route got into the event as well. Enterprising homeowners ran water and Gatorade stands. A collective of organic farmers passed out slices of grapefruit (with a person down the block holding a trash box for the rinds). A seller of organic coffee creamer handed out paper cups of coffee -- interesting to manage while riding. Restaurants and bars along the route were open and doing great business (the bars especially).
The sense of community was thrilling, and I was elated as I headed back to my car. I hope I can make this event next year.