CICLAVIA

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It was one thing to see the streets overtaken with cyclists, the people becoming cars and traffic. It was quite another to see the side streets, empty, void of bicycles, skaters, and most significantly, cars. The concentration of people in a single line left plenty of room for a pedestrian like me. I walked freely through the streets, reveling in the switched roles that took place that day. My progress was only halted at a few intersections where two worlds collided, stopping traffic frequently to allow a trickle of vehicles to interrupt the steady line of cyclist traffic. I suspect that my slower pace offered a more relaxing experience as I felt like I was constantly on the move and not very often stopped by such cross traffic. Plus, I never had to stop and fix a flat tire. I enjoyed the freedom of right of way on the sidewalks as well as periodic ventures into the line of bicycles. Despite the general lack of vehicular traffic, Venice Boulevard was by no means quiet; music blared from speakers and sometimes from live performers on the sidewalks. The usual homeless crowd lined the sidewalks, either shouting or just watching, on the periphery. This noise was reminiscent of the usual city sounds, but with a thousand voices replacing the distant rumbles of traffic. In this new Los Angeles, even as a young student walking alone, I felt safe. The constant stream of cyclists and the many bystanders lingering on the sidewalks transformed the atmosphere of the usually fast-paced city. Talking to the occasional lingering cyclist, I got the impression that this was a real treat not only for out-of-towners like me, but for those who drive these streets every day. One such cyclist commented on how quickly the downtown area has grown in the past 20 years, and how enjoyable it was to take back the streets, even if only for one day.

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