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Does CicLAvia lead to more cyclists in SoCal?

A double decker bike turns onto 9th Street at L.A.'s third CicLAvia event on October 9, 2011.
A double decker bike turns onto 9th Street at L.A.'s third CicLAvia event on October 9, 2011.
Eric Zassenhaus/ KPCC

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The latest installment of CicLAvia hits Pasadena on Sunday, with roads blocked off to cars so bikes and pedestrians can have the streets all to themselves.

The best outcome for organizers is that people ride the event, and then spend the following weeks changing their routines to cycle more instead of drive.

Not to brag, but they probably want more people like me. I'm one of the station's resident cyclists. I don't own spandex, but I use my bike to get to work most days. I also bike to the grocery store, library or meet-ups with friends.

Whether CicLAvia encourages people to do that, too, is tough to measure.

I took an unscientific survey of bike shops along past CicLAvia routes to see if they noticed any uptick in their clientele.

"CicLAvia probably increased ridership a little bit, but it's not like it doubled or anything like that," says Derek Nuhfer at Metropolis Bikes in Toluca Lake.

His shop was stationed in the very middle of the route running through the San Fernando Valley in March. Nuhfer says there was a slight jump in the people who came through and passed by his shops in the weeks afterward, but it will take a while to truly see the after-effects.

"Whether or not you may see more riders on the street, I'm sure at least in the back of their heads they did learn a little bit about the benefits of cycling," he says. 

He and others say to think of CicLAvia as a marketing campaign: you're subtly convincing people that there are streets in Southern California where biking is safe.

It's only a piece of that attitude-shift, however. Improving bike infrastructure like more lanes and racks are important, for example, to make that every day experience positive.

If you have stories of what convinced you to cycle more – or reasons why you don't – let us know in the comments.