The street is the most democratic space in a city. It’s the place where people gather, mingle, play, buy and sell, walk, gossip, celebrate, people-watch, get news, and hang out.
If this description does not seem to ring true, that’s because we happen to live in a brief sliver of history where it isn’t true. For thousands of years, from the dawn of civilization and the city, getting from point A to B was just one of the many ways our streets have served us. It is only these past few decades where we have, for some reason, quarantined off this amazing space of freedom, play, and life to the automobile. And nowhere is the car a heavier presence on our lives and streets than Los Angeles.
But once every few months a few streets in LA once again return to their historic and rightful place of communal and city life.
On Sunday, June 24, the San Fernando Valley (aka “The Valley”) hosted CicLAvia, a car-free, open streets event where people from all walks of life are welcome.
In the very same space normally reserved for road rage, accidents, pollution, noise, stress, traffic tickets, there was instead the sounds of little children feeling absolutely liberated on a wide, open road as well as grown-ups re-discovering the magic of play, laughing, eating, dancing, chatting, bumping into friends, and on foot and on bikes, skateboards, roller blades, and all sorts of zany custom in-between hybrids.
If only for a few hours, we experienced a glimpse of the full potential of our streets and our city: spaces for people, life, and play.