Closing off the streets of a major urban population, especially Los Angeles is not something that happens very often. Having a large number of individuals in various forms of transportation other than motorized vehicles is definitely a unique experience. On Sunday April 21, I attended CicLAvia which is an event where the main streets of Los Angeles are shut down stretching fifteen miles out from Union Station and ending in Venice Beach.
When I first arrived with my bike at hand lining up at the start, amidst what seemed to be a crowded street with people in every direction, it began to feel overwhelming. However, once it got underway, I soon realized that the amount of people quickly spreading out across the streets, created a comfortable experience to get to known the city. Since the distance to get to Venice Beach was 15 miles, I had the privilege to see what Los Angeles had to offer without the disruption of traffic.
As I progressed through this journey towards the finish line, the city became a continuously changing landscape. It was evident that the heart of Los Angeles was surrounded by buildings of varying heights and large wide streets, characteristic of a big scale urban population. The sounds of cars, the smell of fuel emissions, and the people on the sidewalks, all had a major presence as I moved through the city. However, once I began to approach Venice Beach, the environment and landscape began to change with comparison to what I had seen before. Buildings began to turn into stores, or houses, and the smell of salty air began to propagate with immediate fashion, almost as a last motivator and reminder of the finish line. The landscape began as an interconnected urban space and ended as a beautiful ocean vista.
People rarely get a chance to replace cars with alternate means of transportation and to experience the city with new eyes. Understanding that the purpose of CicLAvia is meant to reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and fight obesity are important aspects of this event. However, for me this was only a part of the importance. Viewing how the landscape changes as you traverse the different areas and streets, as well as witnessing the change in structures, has given me a better understanding of Los Angeles as a whole.