Family Bonding in our Town: City Biking with CicLAvia

Moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents: Are you looking for a special occasion to dedicate to some one-on-one bonding time with your kid? Check out our series of hip happenings that will give the two of you secrets to share and a ritual to return to year after year.

Strap on a helmet and take in the sounds of… silence! Ride the city streets of Los Angeles at CicLAvia, a quarterly event during which cyclists and walkers take over a neighborhood for the day while autos are banned from the area. You’ll be surprised how quiet the wide-lane boulevards can be when all the motors are cut.

Streets in the CicLAvia zone are dedicated to a friendly crew of bicyclers and patrolled by volunteers (pedestrians and slower traffic keep to the right of the street). Water stations, repair zones and playgrounds are set up along the route, and there are plenty of places for a refreshing drink or ice cream stop off, too. If you’re looking for a casual way to chill and catch up with your child or teen, riding along a quiet street and chatting might be just the entrance you’re looking for.

Power to the Pedal

Check out the upcoming sites for CicLAvia to see how close it is to your neighborhood. Usually routes are planned around Metro bus and rail lines, which makes it easy to journey car-free to the event’s destination. However, there are always nearby parking lots if you do need to drive. Many riders with experience on the streets just ride with a “feeder group” from their neighborhood to the CicLAvia route.

Helmets are absolutely essential for kids under 18 (it’s the law) but recommended for all riders. Each participant decides on his or her own speed, so safety is the responsibility of everyone. All human-powered transport with wheels is acceptable, whether that means a scooter, skateboard, wagon, or bike.

If you don’t have the wheels but still want to participate, check the CicLAvia website for the names of bike rental companies in your area. Call ahead to reserve your bike – there are more renters in the city than you might expect!

Rules of the Road

Let your son or daughter set the pace, and then find the lane where other participants are moving at a similar speed. Two-way bike traffic is pretty smooth down most streets, with everyone following the conventional rules of the road.

Wondering what to bring to the event? A bottle of water is always a good idea, but make sure your kid leaves the iPod at home. Although there are crowded hubs with lots of people and events, most of the ride takes you through real neighborhood streets and cross-city thoroughfares.

These quiet streets are the perfect place to parcel out the questions you’ve brought along. What’s your favorite thing to do after school? Where would you bike if you could bike anywhere? Who is your favorite member of One Direction?

Prepare a few starter questions to get your child going, but let him or her lead the conversation and tell you things they might not feel comfortable sharing if you were standing face-to-face instead of watching the road.

Along the Way

Each route is designed to connect neighbors and build community. As such, routes are usually planned in fun and friendly communities with plenty of historic and cultural significance. Route maps point out sites of interest and the stories they conjure, so feel free to step off your bike at any time and peek inside points of interest.

“Hub” areas along the route are places where community groups and businesses offer snacks and information on their services. They’re also on either side of traffic crossings, which slow riders down anyway. These are intersections along the path where autos can cross over. Normal traffic signals alternate between the cars and bikes, and are monitored by volunteers.

Throughout the day, you’ll learn to see your city – and your child – in a whole new light. So sit back, put the pedal to the pavement, and prepare for a re-education of the City of Angels.

Down to bike the streets of LA? And if you’re not from Los Angeles, what fun events does your city offer that are perfect for bonding with the kiddos? Share with us!

Tags : hip happenings   CicLAvia   bonding   

Nikki M
Would love to do this with the kids!