Aaron Paley Reinvents LA Streets

Aaron Paley Reinvents LA Streets

Robert Pacheco

Los Angeles embraced its first “

Map of CicLAvia’s 2011 route.
Courtesy CicLAvia [Click to enlarge.]

Last year seemed overwhelmingly dominated by bikes and seemed almost dangerous for walkers. Have you considered separate lanes for pedestrians?

We don’t want to do that. In these other cities, it works (without separate lanes). And we’re just starting here. We came out with our first event and the bike community really got the message to come, bless their souls. We want them to come again. We also want everyone else to come. And what we need to get across to everyone on bike is to respect the pedestrian as well. It could be better. We are working on the rules of the road and trying to get that message out.

How do you want people to interact with the city?  

We look at this as molding and shaping public space through this temporary intervention. We’re hoping this is the kind of thing that reshapes the way people perceive their city, which will change the way they use their city and change their expectations for the city. We think this can have as big an impact as building a park. We are adding this whole element of new public space, which can be done efficiently and sustainably and cheaply without actually building something.

And what about people just observing or going into areas where they’ve never been before?

The thing that people said to us was: "Oh my God, I didn’t realize how small LA is. I didn’t realize I could get from here to Boyle Heights in ten minutes." The feeling was that LA is much more intimate, and who knew how beautiful it is? That is the right to be able to look at your city and own your city when people are not in their cars.

Was there an area on the route that was most surprising or attractive to you last year?

Of course, being able to ride over the Fourth Street bridge is spectacular. But actually I think the New Hampshire Avenue part between Melrose and Third Street was an eye-opener for me and a lot of other people. It was so beautiful in that neighborhood. The urban fabric is intact, with the pattern of the buildings, the setbacks for the duplexes and triplex, and all the palm trees. It is so stately and graceful.