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Vehicles will be banished from certain Los Angeles streets

9/21/2010, 5 p.m.

LOS ANGELES - Vehicles will be banished from certain Los Angeles streets for a day next month to give pedestrians and bicyclists a chance to explore the city, local officials announced today.

"CicLAvia'' will be held in Los Angeles for the first time on Oct. 10.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, a 7.5-mile route from East Hollywood to Boyle Heights will be closed off to motor vehicles.

"As the car capital of the world, we know a lot about congestion and pollution,'' said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "CicLAvia encourages Angelenos to get out of their cars and walk, ride or skate safely through some of our most diverse communities and experience the city in a new way.''

Aaron Paley, the event's producer, said CicLAvia "is an amazing opportunity for Angelenos to rediscover their city--a new kind of free street festival.''

The route starts in East Hollywood at Heliotrope Drive and Melrose Avenue near Los Angeles City College; extends to Koreatown and the mid-Wilshire District; then passes by MacArthur Park, Los Angeles City Hall and Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles before ending at Hollenbeck Park on First and St. Louis streets in Boyle Heights.

Plans are in place to ensure motor vehicle traffic will flow smoothly on surrounding streets, said Councilman Jose Huizar.

"I don't think (the event) is going to cause that much additional traffic on that day. But if anybody is inconvenienced, I don't think they're going to look at it as too much of a bad thing,'' he said. "(CicLAvia) is good for people's health, for the environment, for community-building.''

Other cities across the world have been holding similar events--called "ciclovias''--for decades, according to Councilman Tom LaBonge.

He said the practice began in Bogota, Colombia, more than 30 years ago to encourage physical activity and draw members of a community together. It was also a way to counteract congestion and pollution.

Other cities that hold the event are New York, Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Portland and Guadalajara.

Villaraigosa said he hopes CicLAvia will become a new tradition in Los Angeles.

"It is my hope that CicLAvia is not just a one-time event, but merely the beginning of a shift in the culture of Los Angeles away from the single-passenger automobile and towards healthy and environmentally-friendly modes of transportation,'' he said.

The event is expected to cost about $240,000. The city will shoulder half the tab; the rest will come from private donors and other sources.

A map of the route can be found at www.ciclavia.org.