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7/4/2010 by Gilda Haas - 2 comments

Every Sunday and holiday, about 80 miles of the main streets of Bogota are blocked off from cars for most of the day so that bicyclists, runners, skaters, and pedestrians can take over the streets.  The ciclovias are used by about 2 million people – about 30% of the population and are surrounded by other events on park stages – concerts, yoga and aerobic instructions, and other performances.


And now, Los Angeles, the least likely suspect, whose endless concrete and streets have been the butt of urban critique for devoting most of the public space in the city to cars instead of people is on the verge of launching its own – CicLAvia – an event to be held on September 12 if all goes as planned.


“L.A. doesn’t have enough public space…of the largest cities in the U.S., L.A. is the most park-poor,” says Aaron Paley, CicLAvia advocate, in a video on Kickstarter, the social entrepreneur venture capital network. (What could be more Do-It-Together?  Venture capital from anyone who can give $1 a more).


“But we do have these fantastic streets.  And the streets already belong to us.  And by turning the streets over to the people on a Sunday we create temporary parks overnight without any large investment.”


Aaron is a professional animator of public spaces and runs a company that is, ironically, called CARS (Community Arts Resources).  He makes festivals, events, and turns concrete in L.A. into places where people dance, and, sing and play together.  He’s a friend and we were Stanton Fellows together (a great program that helps social entrepreneurs create their own project – sorry, only in L.A.).  He was researching and investigating and noodling about a new idea for public space, ended up in Bogota, and came back as a ciclovia evangelist.

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