Street closures signal arrival of CicLAvia

Cynthia E. Griffin | 10/3/2012, 5 p.m.

Southern California is famous as the land of the automobile. In fact, the car is so tightly woven into our daily culture that when something happens to disrupt the flow of traffic--Carmegeddon I and II--it takes top billing on news stations and warrants live television coverage throughout.

Now that Carmegeddon II is a memory for most people, there is one more car-less day upcoming.

But Sunday, Oct. 7, won't have the drama that Carmegeddon did. In fact, this car-less day is being billed as a time for communities to get together and celebrate one another and healthy living.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, the fifth annual CicLAvia event will transform 9.1 miles of normally congested streets in one huge bike lane, and this year South Los Angeles has been invited to the party in a different kind of way.

In past years, the route has gone past the African American Firefighter Museum at 14th Street and Central Avenue, but this time, as part of an evolving process to venture into more communities, CicLAvia board member Tafarai Blayne says the route will pass the California African American Museum in Exposition Park.

In fact, the museum is one of six hubs where a variety of activities will take place.

Activities at CAAM will coincide with the museum's free Target Sunday programming and begin at 11 a.m.

According to Blayne, activities will include Zuumba classes, art exhibits and the opportunity for children to make art; food testing; and a photo booth.

The route stretches from MacArthur Park through Boyle Heights, Chinatown and downtown L.A. to the southern most point in Exposition Park.

The other hubs include Chinatown, the newly opened Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, Mariachi Plaza in East L.A. and the Soto station.

While this is the first year, the CicLAvia route has traveled so far south, there are a number of South L.A.-based organizations that have been participating in the event for years, including the Eastside Riders.

This 4-year-old club is based out of the Watts Labor Communication Action Center and services the communities of Compton, Lynwood, South Gate, South Los Angeles, Watts and West Athens.

According to organizer John Jones, the Eastside Riders will gather at WLCAC at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at 109th St. and Central Avenue and bring what he calls a feeder ride to the Expo park hub.

"We'll take Central Avenue north to Jefferson Boulevard, then west to Figueroa Street and north to the museum. We'll start out with our group, pick up another group at 103rd and Central and then pick up another group at Central and Firestone."

By the time they arrive at Exposition Park, if last year is any indication, Jones said they may have more than 70 riders.

The base group, the Eastside Riders is comprised of Jones and his family; his brother Bryan August-Jones and his family as well as friends. They range in age from 2 to 68 years old. And often, John's wife, a registered nurse, rides with the group.