2016 is shaping up to be the most open-streets-friendly in SoCal, ever, with over a half a dozen major "ciclovias" scheduled between March and October. Equally exciting, several events will feature completely new routes and neighborhoods to explore, including four southeast LA cities on May 15th and a host of San Gabriel Valley cities on June 12th and 26th. If you enjoy exploring LA's diversity by foot, bike, or skate, it's time to get out the calendar and save some dates for an active day with friends and family!
Save the Dates: SoCaL Open Streets 2016
A partial (and growing) list of SoCal open streets events in 2016!
What are "Open Streets"?
"Open Streets" events or "ciclovias" are temporary street closures for automobile traffic that "open" roads for community members of all ages to walk, bike, dance, play, jog, run, socialize and more! Popularized over 40 years ago in Bogota, Columbia, whose “ciclovia” takes place every Sunday and public holiday from 7am to 2pm with an estimated 2 million participants spread out over 70 miles, these simple but powerful events are relatively new to southern California; the first and largest regular event in SoCal (CicLAvia) was only hosted in October 2010. Check out this video for a better idea of what these wonderful community events can look like.
Almost three years ago, at a special meeting of the City Council on December 27, 2012, Temple City's elected officials unanimously voted to reinvent Temple City's stagnant downtown by endorsing an ambitious makeover of Las Tunas Drive into a more vibrant, safe and people-friendly business district.
Since then The City's leadership has changed, with a new City Manager and two new Council Members - William Man and Nanette Fish - having inherited the project from their predecessors. The City has also hosted several additional public meetings to gather further input on the Las Tunas Drive revitalization project, including a special meeting on December 1, 2015 that included a non-binding straw-poll. At that meeting, the Council moved 3-1 in favor of Option A, the most transformative (and safest) design alternative which closely mirrors the design unanimously approved by City Council in December 2012.
Council Member William Man, one of two newcomers to the Council who did not participate in the 2012 decision, noted that he had just had his first child, an experience that had already changed how he thought about everything. He recognized that this planning decision was for future generations and decided he wanted to make the city better for his kids and their kids. Mr. Man also acknowledged that many in the audience grew up in a different era and that many younger residents desire a less car-dependent, more active, healthy, and local lifestyle.
Also voting in favor were Council Member Vincent Yu and Council Member Cynthia Sternquist, who shared that this project remains the hardest decision she's had to make in 6 years on Council. The deciding factor for her was the park-poor nature of Temple City - only 2 parks in 4.5 square miles. She also noted that the addition of public space in downtown included in Option A would be the type of big change needed to make downtown Temple City special again. Council Member Nannette Fish, the other recently elected first-term representative, recused herself from the issue, citing her status as a Las Tunas Drive business owner as a potential conflict of interest.
The one dissenting vote was from Mr. Chavez, who questioned whether slow average travel times for automobiles would attract new businesses and whether people on bikes would use Las Tunas as many he has queried have stated they prefer quieter residential streets.
For more info, see the City staff report.
The newest member of the BikeSGV team, Pomona resident Monica Curiel vividly remembers being taught how to ride her bike and then taking street trips with her father. The only daughter of Mexican born parents, Monica found that connecting with her father was not always easy. However the two had one thing in common that always brought them together: biking. In high school, her father signed them up for bike tours up and down California. Biking meant spending time with family, getting outdoors and staying healthy; all values that are still a big part of her life and work.
Following her graduation from UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resources Studies, Monica began
pursuing her goal to work for a better environment and a healthier community learning how to be an organizer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, working on mercury contamination issues. The role taught her valuable organizing skills in garnering support for a campaign, outreaching to the community and teaching others about important issues. As her campaign wrapped up, the opportunity to live and volunteer in Senegal, on the coast of West Africa, presented itself. The time flew and after a year and a half, Monica had worked on environmental education and ecotourism with the local community and environmental leaders. The experience was extremely educational. In addition to picking up French, Monica also learned that the world has many ways to do things. This understanding and ability to adapt are skills she considers vital to working in different communities and on diverse projects.
Coming home to California, Monica settled in the San Bernardino Mountains as the Program Coordinator of a very special place called the Children’s Forest in Running Springs. Her job there was to recruit and lead a team of youth volunteers from ages 11-17. Together they participated in forest restoration projects, environmental education and fun activities such as camping, kayaking, rock climbing hiking and snowshoeing. The San Bernardino Mountains holds a special place in her heart even now and Monica invites anyone to join her anytime on a hike in her old neighborhood complete with fun facts about the trees, plants, birds and wildlife all around.
Life and work eventually brought Monica down off the mountain and to Los Angeles and now to the San Gabriel Valley. Working at BikeSGV is exciting because alternative and active transportation is connected to so many human and environmental health factors. Although her experience has been in working in everything from toxics to community gardens and water conservation, as an ecologist, Monica’s philosophy believes that all things are connected. The individual choice to ride a bike positively contributes to a person’s overall physical and mental health. It also contributes to cleaner air quality by taking cars off the road, sparking a positive feedback loop by further contributing to better health and a cleaner environment. Walking and biking more also reduces the demand for fossil fuels which is connected to the incredibly important issue of climate change. We can even find the added benefit of connecting communities when folks get together to share a train, a bus or a bike lane. In fact, Monica’s favorite part of public transport is striking up conversations with a diverse array of people, recalling one woman who boarded with a beautiful live parrot on her shoulder!
Speaking of parrots, Monica is confident her expertise and background counting pelicans, flamingos and other shorebirds will translate well to counting slower-moving pedestrians and bicyclists. As BikeSGV's Active Transportation Data Coordinator she is looking forward to working with local volunteers to collect this incredibly important data, identify local and regional needs, and support communities in securing funding to make walking and biking safer and more enjoyable for all.