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CicLAvia, Earth Day event planning begins

Mark your calendars, Claremont—CicLAvia is coming to town on April 22.

Around 30 residents gathered at the Hughes Center to listen to representatives for the popular Los Angeles outdoor event talk about the plan Wednesday evening.

CicLAvia started in LA in 2010, but has its roots in Bogota, Colombia, where city officials have shut down streets once a week and on holidays since the 1970s in favor of pedestrians and bicyclists.

“Essentially they said, ‘What would closing down streets and opening them up to the people look like,’” CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual said.

Activists who traveled to Bogota wanted to replicate the idea in LA, something that Mr. Pascual, who was Deputy Mayor at the time, was initially skeptical about.

“And we did it, and the result was, people showed up,” he said.

Since the first CicLAvia, there have been 24 events and 1.3 million attendees. Miles of city streets have been opened to the public to walk, bike, or ride any non-motorized device along the route.

The plan for April’s event is to shut down Bonita Avenue and Arrow Highway from Cataract Street in San Dimas to College Avenue in Claremont, a total of 6.5 miles of open road through San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona and the City of Trees for anyone to join in at any time and at any point.

The streets will be open to pedestrians and cyclists from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The streets will close around 7 a.m. to prep for the event, and will re-open at 5:30 p.m. to normal traffic, Mr. Pascual said.

Once attendees reach College Avenue, they will be directed north to First Street, where a combination of Sustainable Claremont’s Earth Day celebration and the weekly Farmer’s Market will greet them.

Sustainable Claremont Executive Director Steve Sabicer called the event “Village-palooza.”

Seven crossing points will be established for motorists to pass through—including Indian Hill Boulevard and Towne Avenue in Claremont—with officials directing traffic to keep things safe.

Four “hubs,” one for each city, will be established along the routes. These hubs will have bicycle repair shops, safety presentations, first aid, information booths and games for families. Claremont’s hub will be on First Street between Yale and College Avenues.

For those who can’t walk the entire length of the event, several pedi-cabs will be dispatched to help move people along, Mr. Pascual said. CicLAvia is calling this route “The Heart of the Foothills.”

This is the first time CicLAvia has ventured outside of Los Angeles or any LA-adjacent cities, Mr. Pascual said. There were previous events in Pasadena and in Culver City, but none have taken place in the far eastern reaches of LA County.

According to Mr. Pascual, Claremont first reached out to CicLAvia for a possible event in town around five years ago.

“It was like, ‘Claremont, it could work, but how could we do it?’” Mr. Pascual said.

It took a partnership with the cities involved and some planning from the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments to get the ball rolling.

In his presentation, Mr. Pascual touted the benefits of getting rid of cars from the streets, including better air quality, a more active population, a higher ridership for public transit and a positive impact on local businesses.

In fact, Mr. Pascual noted that local businesses along Bonita Avenue and Arrow Highway would especially benefit from the event, and encouraged those businesses to set up tents along the route to encourage people to stop and shop.

Mr. Sabicer told the audience that this year’s Earth Day celebration will be moved to First Street to converge at the Claremont hub.

“Normally we expect four to six thousand people at Earth Day, this year we’re expecting well over 20,000,” Mr. Sabicer said. “So it’s going to be a very different experience.”

Mr. Pascual estimates that at least 40,000 people might attend April’s event.

Four different “worlds” will focus on aspects of sustainability—water, transportation, energy and environmental education, Mr. Sabicer said. Around 80 groups will be on hand to teach attendees about different realms of living a sustainable life.

Mr. Pascual noted that volunteers from CicLAvia would be knocking on doors of homes along the route starting in late February. Each home will be visited twice, he added, to let people know about the event.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com