One of my favorite events in Los Angeles is CicLAVia, a bi-annual event that closes around 10 miles of streets to cars, filling them with bicycles, food trucks and fun. And every year it is equally as amazing to see Los Angeles’ wide boulevards filled with bicycles and pedestrians enjoying the streets and experiencing Los Angeles in an entirely new way.
The origin of CicLAvia is Ciclovía from Bogotá, Colombia. Bogotá has inspired many innovative transportation planning projects here in the US but the idea of Ciclovía or “open street” projects may be most popular. These projects can be truly transformative because they allow anyone to experience what our largest public space could be like if it prioritized people instead of cars. The Open Streets Project has created a comprehensive database of projects in almost every state in the country. From New York to Fargo to San Antonio, residents can enjoy lively open streets filled with the rush of people instead of cars
For October’s CicLAvia, some friends and I from the Living Streets Los Angeles volunteer committee, decided to take over a side street along the CicLAvia route in Los Angeles’ Chinatown and turn it in to a street filled with playful activities. Our inspiration for our play street came from the incredible work of urban planner and artist Candy Chang. Ms. Chang transforms public space through engaging participatory art projects that allow residents to use their imaginations to dream of what spaces can become.
Recently I stumbled upon this image from the African Library Project of a mini-library kiosk in Bogota, Colombia. These mini-libraries are from Paradero Para Libros Para Parques (PPP) a program whose goal is to promote literacy across the country. There are over 100 kiosks across Bogota, and according to PPP’s website, the libraries are open 12 hours per week and are staffed by volunteers who answer questions, organize activities and also help children with their homework! The program is a part of Fundalectura in association with city parks department. You can see a short video about the project here.