The sight of downtown unclogged by cars made Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa so giddy Sunday morning, that Ferris Bueller came to his mind.
"Life moves pretty fast," Villaraigosa said, quoting the free spirited teenager the well-known 1986 movie. "If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Villaraigosa used the movie line to kick off CicLAvia, a free event that encourages people to leave their cars at home and ride through Los Angeles on bikes, skates, and scooters instead.
With the city's streets so devoid of four-door sedans, two-seaters and SUVs on Sunday morning, the mayor and thousands of other residents couldn't help but be in a cheerful mood.
"It's spectacular," said Harvey Kolker. He and his wife Mary pedaled into downtown on their bikes from their Lincoln Heights home.
"I like that there are no cars," he said. "They should do this once a week. They should let us ride out to the beach."
The couple joined hundreds of thousands of people who tightened their headgear and headed out on a variety of wheels, from racing and mountain bikes, to tricked-out tour bikes and cruisers for CicLAvia. At least 10 miles of streets were closed from Boyle Heights to East Hollywood.
The popularity of the now- twice-a-year event proves that Angelenos are ready to invite more bikes into their lives, said Villaraigosa, who announced that the city with join with Bike Nation to set up a bicycle
Four hundred kiosks will be installed around the city, with 4,000 bicycles available for rent to people who need to use the bikes for a short-term ride in a program designed to ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution.
"As we have seen with CicLAvia and Carmegeddon, Angelenos are aching for a day without a car," Villaraigosa said. "But in tough economic times like these, we knew it wasn't feasible to start a public bike share program."
Bike Nation, which was formed in 2010 and already has bike share operations in Washington, D.C., came up with the plan to offer the bikes for rent.
It charges $1.50 for trips up to 60 minutes with rates going up for additional time.
The plans for kiosks in Los Angeles will be developed by the company in meetings with the city.
"We plan to work with the city to define the final locations, but we are tentatively leaning to place kiosks downtown, Hollywood, Westwood and Venice Beach," said Navin Narang, chief executive of Bike Nation.
"These locations were identified because of density and the propensity of bike-share acceptance," he said.
"We plan to solidify these locations over the next few months and will look at other locations throughout the city."
Bike Nation will absorb all the costs of the $16 million program. The company plans to open operations in San Francisco, New York and Chicago in the coming year.
The Kolkers said they liked the idea, though Mary Kolker wondered if it would work in a city where the car is still king, and few drivers, she said, obey the rules of bike lanes.
"We need freeways for bikes," Howard Kolker said.
But for the Kolkers and others who had participated in CicLAvia before, the event makes them slow down to appreciate bridges, businesses, parks and landmarks that make up Los Angeles.
Members from the Real Rydaz, a low rider bike club from South Los Angeles, lined up their elaborately designed bikes to roll out with the mayor. The club organizes rides through the community to promote health and warn youngsters about the dangers of obesity.
"I just turned 58 years old and I'm still riding a bike," said one member named Gee Man. "I'm going to ride this bike until the day the Lord takes my legs away."
CicLAvia, a nonprofit organization with the same name as the event, also works to improve public health, increase public space, enhance communities and economic development and promote bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The local event is based on a concept that became popular in Bogota, Colombia, in 1974, called Ciclovia.
But the event isn't just for the cyclist. A pack of roller skaters from the L.A. Derby Dolls couldn't wait to tackle the surface streets.
"We're big fans of not driving in Los Angeles," said Julia Callahan, whose Derby Doll name is Infinite Pest. "We get to see the intricate architecture of some of the buildings, and all the little things we usually miss in a car," she said. "It's always fun when we get to skate in the middle of the street."