The Guide to Car-Free Events in Los Angeles

CicLAvia riders on Broadway in Downtown L.A. | Photo by Rebecca Cabage, courtesy of CicLAvia, Facebook
enlarge photo [+]

Car-free events in Los Angeles have become more than just a healthy hobby. For many, these events are social gatherings, family outings and a chance to explore different neighborhoods. Read on for a guide to L.A.’s car-free events, a fun way to meet new people and explore the city’s landmarks and hidden gems.

For itineraries that will help you discover L.A.'s neighborhoods and hidden gems via foot, bike and Metro, visit Car Free L.A.

The Big Parade Los Angeles

The Big Parade Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of The Big Parade Los Angeles, Facebook

The Big Parade Los Angeles is an annual, two-day walk that happens every May. It includes about 80 public stairways and spans over 35 miles from Downtown L.A. to the Griffith Observatory. The walk runs on a timetable and is designed as a series of attached loops, so people can come and go as they please. The location is broadcast live so that walkers can follow along or join at will. Along the way, there’s music, art, history, guest speakers and lots of surprises. The Big Parade and the practice walks are free.

CicLAvia

CicLAvia in the Arts District
CicLAvia in the Arts District | Photo courtesy of Ver Latorre, Flickr

Several times a year, Los Angeles shuts down sections of its streets to cars. Free for all, CicLAvia connects communities across an expansive city, creating a safe place to bike, walk, skate, roll, and dance through Los Angeles. Inspired by a car-free event concept called Ciclovía that originated in Bogotá, Colombia, this street-closure series is particularly meaningful in Los Angeles. No matter how much drivers have traversed certain territories, it’s an entirely different experience to explore them by bike. The inaugural event took place in October 2010 and has grown to be the biggest open streets event in the country. Future CicLAvia events include the Southeast cities on May 15, 2016, Wilshire Boulevard in August 2016 and the Heart of Los Angeles in October 2016. 

HBD LA 5K

HBD L.A. 5K
Photo courtesy of HBD L.A. 5K

As part of BlacklistLA, a running group that discovers the city every Monday night, the HBD L.A. 5K marathon takes place every September 4 to celebrate the City of Los Angeles official birthday. HBD LA 5K is a celebration of L.A.’s birthday, history, and bright future. The run begins at La Plaza de Olvera, which is the birthplace of Los Angeles. The route will take runners through historic streets including Cesar Chavez Avenue and Mission Road. 

Los Angeles Critical Mass

Los Angeles Critical Mass
Los Angeles Critical Mass | Photo by Carolin Kewer

Los Angeles Critical Mass is America's largest community bicycle ride that enables bicyclists of all ages, types of bikes, and skill levels to ride together with thousands of other cyclists. The rides offer excellent opportunities to explore Los Angeles’ neighborhoods by bike. The night rides depart at 7:29 p.m. on the last Friday of every month from the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, near the Purple Line Metro Station. Areas explored change monthly, but the rides typically cover about 30 miles at a pace of 10-12 miles per hour. There are pit stops for bathroom breaks and food is available from support vehicles. Rides end around midnight at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue, near the Metro Red Line Station. Donations are encouraged. Ride tips and information are available online.

The Passage Ride

The Passage Ride
The Passage Ride | Photo by Zack Simone

Since 2009, The Passage Ride, aka The Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time, has explored far-flung areas of the city on bike. Departing from Koreatown's California Donuts #21 (at the corner of West 3rd Street and South New Hampshire Avenue), each Wednesday night at 9 p.m., they set out on a unique route based around a different theme. Sometimes historical, sometimes conceptual, often nonsensical, sometimes a game, the routes aim to give participants a balance between seeing new things and seeing old things anew. Convinced that bicycle infrastructure encompasses much more than bike lanes and river paths, they climb hills, wander off-road, and venture underground to bring out the hidden and unexpected connections between otherwise disconnected places.

Los Angeles Marathon

Los Angeles Marathon starting line
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Marathon, Facebook

The Sketchers Performance Los Angeles Marathon creates world-class experiences that ignite passion in athletes and connect communities through the transformative power of sport. The L.A. Marathon is among the largest marathons in the country, with more than 26,000 participants, thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of spectators. The “Stadium to the Sea” course, starting at Dodger Stadium and finishing near the Santa Monica Pier, is one of the most scenic in the world, taking runners on a tour of Los Angeles past many major landmarks. The next marathon is scheduled for March 19, 2017.