News | LA-based CicLAvia Looks to Create More Open Space in Car-Centric City

Stop the Video



by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

Every Sunday from 7am to 2pm, the Colombian capital of Bogotá restricts car travel on nearly 80 miles of city streets, opening them up to cyclists and pedestrians in a city-sponsored event known as Ciclovia, or ‘bikeway’ in Spanish. The event, which has gone on since the 1970s, draws an estimated 1.7 million participants per week.


In 2010, a group of community activists began hosting similar events in Los Angeles, working with the local government to create open streets for a day across the city’s different neighborhoods. Drawing inspiration from Colombia’s weekly ‘Ciclovia,’ organizers named the events CicLAvia. Over a decade later, CicLAvia has gone on to host events across 243 miles of Los Angeles streets, emerging from its grassroots origins into a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization led by a volunteer board and a staff team encompassing a diverse range of professional backgrounds. Its open street events have been tied to local economic benefits and improved air quality.



Having drawn over 1.8 million participants over the past decade, CicLAvia is starting to ramp up its operations even more. According to Chief Strategist Tafarai Bayne, the organization just negotiated a contract with the city to increase its event output over the next three years. “[This year] we’re going to do four events, next year we’re going to do seven or eight, and the year after that we’re going to do an event monthly,” said Bayne. “It’s a very important ramp-up period for us and a critical time.”


Long before monthly CicLAvia events were a possibility, Bayne attended the first-ever CicLAvia in October 2010 after learning about it in a newspaper ad. At the time, he was involved with community organizing around affordable housing issues, and had noticed that recent discussions in his field had begun to focus on mobility. “It sounded like a cool event and a great way to activate neighborhoods, particularly communities like South LA where there aren’t many parks and it’s unsafe to cycle or be around,” said Bayne. “I attended the event with the intention of scouting it out and seeing what it was about.”


Bayne came away impressed and reached out to the organizers after to see how he could get involved. He became a regular participant and as the organization grew in both size and scope, he worked his way up to his current position in an event-planning role as Chief Strategist.  


Having been with CicLAvia since the beginning, Bayne notes that collaborating with the city government over the years has been a process. “It took a couple years to get the city to do the first event,” he said. “LA is a car city. The idea of taking streets for bicycles felt challenging for city leaders, but we made a case by bringing in community support and finding champions on the city side.” One such champion is former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Ramon Pascual, who supported CicLAvia in its early days and now serves as the organization’s Executive Director.


Over the years, CicLAvia has fostered strong relationships with local government agencies such as the LA Department of Transportation (LA DOT) and LA Metro, allowing the organization to increase its event output and play a role in local transportation policy. “We actively look for ways to ensure that people can move from our event space to more political engagements and ways to get involved civically,” said Bayne. He cites voter registration at CicLAvia events and CicLAvia’s partnership with LA DOT’s sustainable transportation equity program as examples. “We see our events and the work that we do as a piece of the puzzle in making Los Angeles a better city for residents to live in,” he said.


CicLAvia aims to continue opening up Los Angeles streets for a day over the rest of the year, starting with its Meet the Hollywoods event on August 21st, which will run through West Hollywood and Hollywood from 9:00am to 4:00pm. “This route is always particularly fun…there are some really great parks, lots of great things to see, and a lot of Metro connections nearby as well,” said Bayne. CicLAvia also has events in Central and South LA planned to close out the calendar year. 


In addition to giving Angelenos a chance to enjoy a few hours outdoors, Bayne and the rest of CicLAvia hope that these events will have a more lasting impact as the organization continues to grow. 


“What we like to think about are the opportunities our events provide residents to reimagine Los Angeles - for a whole day, people can get around the city without driving their car,” said Bayne. “The more we can give people a new vision for living in a city day-to-day, I do believe that will impact how they vote and the types of neighborhoods they want around them.”

For more information on CicLAvia and future events, you can visit the website and sign up for their newsletter at


About the Author:

Jacob is a second-year MPP student at the Price School of Public Policy. He is interested in urban policy and transportation planning issues. As a recent LA transplant, he enjoys exploring the area and the local food scene in his free time.