The streets of Los Angeles are not always hospitable to bicyclists.
As recently demonstrated by incidents in both Downtown and in , navigating roadways designed to cater to motor vehicles can be dangerous to seasoned riders and downright intimidating to new ones.
To the organizers of the bi-annual of CicLAVia festival—which on Sunday, April 15, will close down 10 miles of city streets for cyclists—the event is an opportunity to ease the anxiety associated with urban riding.
"We see it like a gateway drug," said CicLAVia Organizer Joe Linton. "People can come to CicLAVia and realize that they can ride from city hall to Los Angeles City College, and it's easy. You don't have be Lance Armstrong. CicLaVia is very beginner friendly."
The fourth CicLAVia will shut down streets from Boyle Heights to Downtown, MacArthur Park to East Hollywood, El Pueblo/Olvera Street, and South LA, with the nearest starting point to Highland Park located at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument at 125 Paseo De La Plz.
Linton said that Northeast Los Angeles residents can travel into the heart of CicLAVia by taking the Gold Line into Union Station.
In addition to car-free streets, Sunday's CicLAVia will also offer music, access to an array of shops and a even a climbing wall.
"I always recommend that people shouldn't come in with pre-conceived ideas of what it will be," Linton said. "It's much better to just show up and see what happens."
Though CicLAVia's heart is in Downtown, it's also a major event for business owners in Highland Park such as Josef Bray-Ali.
Owner of the on North Figueroa Street, Bray-Ali said he's expecting to rent more than 40 bicycles this week.
However, while it might be expected that CicLAVia would be a boon to business, it actually poses a major challenge, he said.
Bray-Ali told Patch that he typically doesn't rent out bicycles, as there are significant costs associated with upkeep.
"Keeping a rental fleet is too expensive--floor space and storage, repairs, customer service—to do on a regular basis, so most shops that aren't by the beach don't even want to touch it," he said.
For CicLAVia, though, Bray-Ali said he's purchased a fleet of bicycles that he hopes he'll be able to sell at discounted prices once they are returned to the shop. If everything goes according to plan, he'll break even on the venture.
Though it's a somewhat risky business proposition, Bray-Ali said making bikes available during CicLAVia is important to Flying Pigeon's mission.
"I think there is no future for this shop if we stop engaging in advocacy and events like CicLAvia. I don't think it is about making money, but about sustaining an ethos about the value of our community and the attractiveness of riding a bike in L.A."
Flying Pigeon will be open from 9-10 a.m. on Sunday morning before leading a group ride to the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Hub. The shop will then re-open after the event to retrieve rentals.