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CicLAvia: 4 years in LA, 40 in Bogota

A rider from the October, 2114 CicLAvia event.
A rider from the October, 2114 CicLAvia event.
Serena Grace

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The latest CicLAvia, a serial street festival that features thousands of bike riders, takes place again Sunday, this time in South L.A.  A six-mile stretch of streets including sections of MLK Boulevard and Central Avenue will be closed to traffic, and open for people to ride bikes, stroll or just hang out.

The L.A. organizers of CicLAvia took their inspiration from an event in Bogota.  The name, according to Jaime Ortiz, co-founder of the Bogota event, is a mash-up of a Columbian slang word for bicycle, cicla, and the word via, which means way. "So," says Ortiz, "a way for bicycles."

Ortiz is in Los Angeles for Sunday's event, and he says the two CicLAvias are similar, in that they are both driven from the bottom up.  

"It is the people who make the event," he says.  

But unlike the Bogota festival, which happens every week along a fixed route, each one of L.A.'s CicLAvias takes place in a different neighborhood, shining light on parts of the city that may be unfamiliar, even to life-long residents.

Organizers here expect at least 50,000 people to turn up on Sunday, and they stress that CicLAvia isn't just a bike event. As co-founder Aaron Paley notes, people cruise around on skateboards, scooters and wheelchairs, and others just sit on the curbs and watch the event roll by.

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