CITYWIDE — Richard McKinnon often rides his bicycle across Santa Monica during holidays. He said it allows him to experience the city in a different way than usual — much more serenely.
“It’s quite a unique experience,” he said.
Now he’s trying to give more people the opportunity to ride their bikes through the city as he plans Santa Monica’s first cyclovia, which for a day, would shut down Main Street to cars and open it up for cyclists, pedestrians, skate boarders, people in wheel chairs and any number of alternate modes of transportation.
Tentatively planned for Oct. 10, or 10/10/10, the cyclovia has already been endorsed by the Parks & Recreation Commission and is going to be presented for approval by the City Council during tonight’s meeting.
Cyclovias originated in Bogota, Colombia, in the 1980s as a way to encourage the citizens to be more active. Today, the Bogota cyclovia sees 70 miles of major streets closed to cars every Sunday and holiday.
Cyclovias are fast becoming popular in the United States, as well, with New York City, Tuscon, San Francisco and others each holding their own versions of the event.
The route for Santa Monica’s first cyclovia would extend 1.3 miles from Colorado Avenue to Santa Monica’s border with Los Angeles and would last from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“People in the Omelet Parlor could just ride through the street to Jadis,” McKinnon said. “People will be able to hopscotch on the road.”
Though there are logistical issues with shutting down Main Street, McKinnon said these have already been addressed with the annual Fourth of July Parade, which uses the same route. At 8 a.m. on a Sunday, there is not much traffic to contend with, but the cyclovia would need barricades to keep out cars, find a way to reroute buses and make sure there are enough police and volunteers for the event to run smoothly, he said.
To those concerned closing Main Street off to cars would mean difficulties navigating the city, McKinnon pointed out that Neilson Street runs parallel and is only one block west of Main Street.
Kevin McKeown, a City Councilman who is a self-described bicycle advocate, will present the plan at tonight’s meeting. With five council members expected to be present at the meeting, McKeown said he thinks there will be the required four votes needed to pass the plan.
While McKinnon prefers the date and route selected, McKeown is going to present it to council more generally. He said that he is open to a different date and route if necessary.
“The chosen date, 10/10/10 is great because it kind of looks like a three-wheeled bicycle,” he said. “But if someone has a better idea, I’d love to hear it.”
McKeown said he hopes the cyclovia will lead to a comprehensive plan to promote bike use in Santa Monica, such as a bike sharing program.
McKinnon’s ultimate goal is for Santa Monica to hold four cyclovias a year, one during each season. He also said he hopes the route will eventually extend into Los Angeles.
“Santa Monica tends to set the pace,” he said, “so I would hope Santa Monica continues pacesetting with the first cyclovia in Los Angeles.”