Students, professors close L.A. streets at Cic(LA)via

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Author: Henry Dickmeyer

Downtown Los Angeles streets were closed to motorized vehicles on Sunday for Cic(LA)via, the fourth bicycle and pedestrian-friendly event in the city since 2010.

Over 100,000 cyclists and pedestrians filled 10 miles of streets Sunday morning and early afternoon, with around 20 Occidental students among one of the many organized groups of participants.

Occidental was the only college to help sponsor Cic(LA)via out of the many other sponsors and philanthropic groups.

The Urban and Environmental Policy (UEP) department and Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) have been the primary driving forces behind the event, which was inspired by 2003’s ArroyoFest, a similar event located on the Pasadena freeway.

“It was an extraordinary event [ArroyoFest], a magical moment for Los Angeles. In 2009, UEPI hosted a Bike Summit and in 2010 a ‘Street Summit’ which helped further generate interest in events like Cic(LA)via which first took place in October 2010,” UEP professor Robert Gottlieb said. “UEPI’s mission includes language about building a more livable city and region and Cic(LA)via certainly contributes to that.”

Dean Jorge Gonzalez rode alongside the Occidental contingency that set out to downtown Los Angeles and delivered comments at the opening press conference about the school’s commitment to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Occidental’s presence at the event represents its commitment to being what former president John Slaughter called the “liberal arts college of Los Angeles.”

“It really brought together all walks of life and solidified a sense of community that is not possible to achieve with a car culture,” Bike Cage employee Shalini Pace (first-year) said.

UEPI wants to continue this trend by increasing student access to bicycles.

“We need to increase the capacity for students, faculty, staff and administrators to be able to bike, on or off campus, increase the capacity of the bike share program and ultimately do our own Oxy group rides on a continuing basis,” Gottlieb said.

Two UEP 101 sections, taught by Gottlieb and Professor Victor Polanco, hosted Cic(LA)via organizer and Occidental alum Joe Linton as a guest speaker prior to the event.

Cic(LA)via hopes to connect its participants to the greater city, as well as promote an actively healthy and environmentally friendly way.

“It was a great way to get to know more about L.A. It made me really proud to go to school in L.A. and excited to spend more time in the city. The event was really diverse, and I got to see parts of the city that I would have never seen had I not participated,” participant Alex Parker-Guerrero (first-year) said.  

Students have played a role in bringing about this awareness, in both helping to spread the word and utilizing Occidental’s bike sharing program.

The Bike Cage, located in the Rangeview parking garage, is home to several bikes that students can borrow, and it also offers free bike repairs.

Cic(LA)via has brought in more students to visit the Bike Cage according to geology major Brian Townsend (junior).

“It was one of our busiest weeks,” Townsend said. “There’s definitely a huge demographic of the school coming by. It’s a social reason to bike.”

According to fellow cyclist Robin Bruns (sophomore), Bike Share also received a shipment of eight new bikes last week, doubling its supply.

“Bike Share increases the accessibility of exploring the streets of L.A. By renting bikes weekly we hope to inspire more people to ride. Further, we hope that getting a chance to ride will convince people to get more more involved in the biking culture,” Pace said.

The next community biking event in the Los Angeles area will be the Los Angeles River Ride on Sunday, June 10, in Long Beach. Walkers, runners, and cyclists are all encouraged to attend the event.

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