History of CicLAvia
The first CicLAvia festival was held in October 2010. Organizers modeled the event on the regular car-free festivals that are held in Bogota, Colombia each Sunday. More than 100,000 people attended the first CicLAvia festival in 2010, far exceeding the nonprofit’s expectations. The first event featured open streets stretching from East Hollywood to Boyle Heights, drawing many people outdoors to enjoy the open, traffic-free spaces and fresh air.
Since the first festival, CicLAvia events have happened every two months before the pandemic forced them to temporarily cease. Five CicLAvia festivals were canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19. When the festivals happen, cyclists will proceed along a pre-determined route. The streets will be closed to vehicular traffic. Pedestrians and skateboarders are also welcome to attend to walk, ride, and enjoy outdoor dining and the various goods offered by vendors along the route.
The routes are normally planned near mass transit locations, allowing anyone who wants to participate to attend. The return of CicLAvia is being hailed as a bright spot in the recovery process as Los Angeles begins to emerge from the pandemic.
Businesses located along the routes typically offer deals to attendees to attract new customers. Food trucks, arts and crafts, and things like climbing walls are also frequently present. The event is free and encourages people across LA to connect with each other.
CicLAvia reports that since its inception, more than 1.8 million people have participated in its open street festivals. The events also allow people to explore alternative modes of transportation while enjoying safe, slow streets.
More bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure needed
CicLAvia highlights the need for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure on LA’s streets. While the weather in the city is warm year-round, which should be ideal for riding bicycles, its streets are also dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians to navigate. Despite the fact that Los Angeles has numerous wide boulevards with room to install smart cycling infrastructure, the city has failed to make meaningful progress on making the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic congestion. When cyclists are forced to share the streets with motor vehicles without a safe place to ride, they face serious risks of being seriously injured or killed in bicycle collisions. In 2018, Bicycling named Los Angeles as the worst city for cyclists because of the high number of fatalities that happen each year. Many motorists drive while distracted by their phones and electronic devices despite laws prohibiting texting while driving or using handheld mobile devices. Other motorists drive aggressively, and many cyclists have been killed in hit-and-run bicycle accidents.
The conditions of some of the streets in LA have also resulted in serious injuries in bicycle accidents. For example, Los Angeles had to pay $7.5 million who suffered quadriplegia in a bicycle crash caused by tree roots that had buckled the pavement where he was riding in Porter Ranch.
Bicycle crash statistics
With fewer motorists on the streets of LA during the pandemic, bicycle accidents plummeted even though the pandemic brought an increase in the number of cyclists. For example, in Sept. 2020, there were 18 bicycle collisions reported by the Los Angeles Police Department. In comparison, 185 bicycle accidents happened in the city during Sept. 2019.
Between 2016 and 2018, 450 cyclists were killed in accidents across California, and Los Angeles County had more fatal bicycle accidents than any other county in the state with 106 during that period. In 2019 alone, 36 cyclists lost their lives in crashes in LA. With motorists returning to the streets combined with more cyclists, it is important for the city to take steps to prevent more cyclists from suffering serious injuries or being killed in collisions.
Slow Streets program
During the pandemic, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation initiated the Slow Streets program to allow residents to enjoy more outdoor spaces while following the physical distancing guidelines. Neighborhoods that applied to participate in the program had signs placed at their entrances telling motorists to slow down. However, the program was initially billed as temporary, and LADOT states that it is no longer installing Slow Streets and is instead concentrating on the neighborhoods that have already been approved to participate in the program.
CicLAvia has helped to influence the transportation policies of Los Angeles for bicyclists and pedestrians. However, much more work needs to be done. While the city previously promised additional bicycle infrastructure installations, motorists who have been angered by the plans have successfully blocked them. For example, in Playa del Rey in 2017, motorists flooded social media with angry messages about the community’s plan to install bicycle lanes because the number of lanes for cars would be reduced. The city backed down and did not install the bicycle lanes it had promised. Hopefully, CicLAvia will help to inspire more people to think about transportation in LA differently. As an increasing number of people have embraced riding bicycles in the city, maybe there will be greater acceptance of installing bicycle infrastructure to reduce the number of bicycle collisions that happen in the city and county every year.
What to do if you are involved in a bicycle accident
If you are injured in a bicycle collision with a car or because of a dangerous condition in the street, you should report your accident to the authorities. If you can, try to photograph the vehicle or hazardous condition that caused your crash, and ask for the names and contact information of anyone who saw what happened. Take as many photos of the accident scene as possible, including the vehicle’s make and model, the weather and road conditions, and the damage to your bicycle and the vehicle. Get the driver’s insurance and registration information.
Make sure to seek medical attention even if you think your injuries are minor. Some injuries do not show symptoms for hours or days after a collision. Getting immediate medical attention can aid in the recovery process and make it likelier that you will be able to show that your accident caused your injuries instead of an intervening or unrelated event.
Talk to an experienced bicycle collision attorney in Los Angeles
Riding bicycles in Los Angeles should be an enjoyable and healthy experience. Unfortunately, however, many cyclists are seriously injured or killed each year. Motorists and their insurers typically attempt to place the blame for bicycle collisions on the cyclists, making it important for you to talk to an experienced bicycle accident attorney at the Steven M. Sweat Injury Lawyers for help with your case. Attorney Steven M. Sweat has more than two decades of experience representing the victims of negligence and helping them to recover the compensation to which they should be entitled to for their losses. Call us at 866-966-5240 to schedule a free case evaluation, and learn about the legal merits of your claim.