Community organizations engage with participants at October's CicLAvia
By Andrea Wenzel and George Villanueva
From Echo Park to Downtown to East LA, the pavements of October’s CicLAvia swelled with cyclists, pedestrians, roller-derbyists, scooters, and more than a few canine commuters. Despite unseasonably high temperatures, thousands came out to enjoy the car-free streets, food vendors, mariachi bands, and live DJs.
Community organizations also made the most of the crowds, setting up booths at various points on the route. Groups like the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition appealed to the sympathetic audience offering literature and coalition memberships along with colorful bike-shaped pins. Grassroots groups, like the Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade highlighted the connection between cycling, community building, and efforts to address health disparities in communities of color—including in areas like Boyle Heights on the CicLAvia route.
Apart from groups with a direct emphasis on cycling, other organizations capitalized on the opportunity to connect with CicLAvia participants who might want to learn about the communities they were biking through.
Carla de Paz, a Community Organizer for East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), explained their efforts to lobby Metro to develop community assets in the empty lots left by the Gold Line Eastside Extension. “CicLAvia stands for creating healthier communities,” she said, so it made sense to engage participants in their campaign for healthy community assets like affordable housing, green spaces, and grocery stores. Passersby were invited to join ELACC’s 2-hour ‘twitter party’. Using whiteboards, they answered questions like, ‘What do you want to see built on empty Metro lots?’ and ‘How can we build healthy communities around public transit?’ Photos of participants and their answers were then posted on twitter, along with discussion, using hashtags like #EmptyMetroLots.
CicLAvia will make its South LA debut December 7th. Community organizations looking ahead will be planning how to capitalize on the influx of cyclists from within and outside their communities. From traditional flyers and email listserv sign-ups to hybrid social media activities, CicLAvia offers groups a chance to connect with new audiences and encourage engagement that outlasts the road closures and crowds.
We look forward to seeing you there on December 7th!
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