CicLAvia: Documenting Stories

Documenting stories to show the community inclusive face of CicLAvia.

Interviews from the Heart of LA, 10-09-22 event and South LA, 12-04-22 event.
Video editing by Andrés Muñoz, storytelling by me, credits by Bin Gao.

Software Used:

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustator

4 Months
Sept. – Dec. 2022

Andrés Muñoz
Bin Gao
Chrissy Stevens

My Role
• UX Designer
• UX Researcher
• Interviewer
• Storyteller
• Graphic Designer
• Project Manager

Client & Prompt

CicLAvia is an NGO that regularly organizes open street events around Los Angeles county. They close streets and plan routes for people to explore the city in a different way. There are also different services available for people to use, such as food, bike repairs, voter registration, informative programs, etc.

Our team was encouraged to look at the project through the eyes of documentation and come up with strategies that allow CicLAvia to document its growth over time, in order to drive public policy changes, such as the creation of bike lanes and a generally healthier city.

We attended the Heart of LA, October 9th event and South LA, December 4th event to gather insights about how people feel about CicLAvia.


The CicLAvia team currently has limited ways to collect demographic data and results. How might we measure design impact, either quantitatively, qualitatively, or both? In addition, event day documentation / storytelling can often be limited.


People often recognize CicLAvia as a cyclist event, when in reality it’s much more, such as a public space that shares art and culture, a community, etc.


We devised different activities for event goers to participate in to get unique stories representative of CicLAvia. We created a video featuring these interviews (shown at the top), as well as a Statistical Overview I created (shown below) using data collected from UCLA studies about how CicLAvia improves communities.

CicLAvia: Documenting Stories video

Statistical Overview using UCLA studies, 2014 – 2016.

Outreach Observations

We followed the CicLAvia neighborhood outreach team before the October 9th event and observed their interactions with local businesses in downtown LA.

Outreach was fast and minimal, with CicLAvia not offering any direct incentives for businesses to take advantage of. Businesses are instead told they can call to get in contact with CicLAvia management, but there is no purposed incentives for businesses to take advantage of events.

Additionally, certain logistical barriers make it impossible for local businesses to take advantage of CicLAvia events. Jewelry stores are one such example, since they can’t set their jewelry out in the streets during events. The closed streets also make it complicated for their regular customers to access the store and parking.

We decided that approaching the design brief with local businesses as our main audience could prove to be especially complicated. Our field observations deterred us from focusing on local businesses as our main audience.

Instead, we turned our focus towards the CicLAvia community and event goers.

Secondary Research

I conducted a competitive analysis of other events that take place in America, similar to CicLAvia.

Transportation Alternatives of New York City, Bike Cleveland of Ohio, and Northwest Trail Alliance in Portland, Oregon helped me realize that many policy changes regarding bikes happen through organizations such as these. As a result, CicLAvia could benefit more people if they branched out to push for a change in public policy.

Additionally, they could get more funding if they offered some type of membership, which could help them host events more frequently down the line.

Interviews with Subject Matter Experts

In our first interview with Tina Batteate, we learned about methods used to obtain different metrics like air quality, estimated head count, a survey done by UCLA for multiple events, and different studies they made to prove an increased participation rate during the events. This was awesome, because we were able to see some hard numbers and data about CicLAvia benefiting communities. Additionally, these studies also helped guide our Statistical Overview (read the full study here.).

Our second interview with Maddie Brozen, we learned that despite CicLAvia being one of the most successful open street activities within the U.S., its success has been limited for multiple reasons. Strict policy regulations and the large cost of organizing this kind of event make it difficult to reproduce frequently.

Both of these interviews were so insightful, and really shed light on the impact that CicLAvia has on the communities that host their events.

“People seem to love it, and there’s a story to be told through them.” – Tina Batteate

“Metrics, numbers, and data aren’t enough to influence policy change. Success will happen one way or another; all it takes is for people to know that the activity is there, participate, and make it more popular every time. ” – Maddie Brozen

Iteration #1

During a brainstorming session, we explored ways to empower the community to participate in other ways other than riding a vehicle. Chrissy Stevens suggested looking for strategies that capture people’s expressions during the event. This sounded like a great opportunity to engage and interview people about their emotions and feelings.

We agreed that LA culture is quite artistic and wanted to create a way to capture colorfulness and expression in a physical form. Our artistic intervention, the Graffiti Wall, was designed as a way to engage with people to express their unique identity surrounded by fellow Angelinos.

Graffiti Wall Prototype #1

We tested materials, installation, and people’s natural reactions towards such an intervention at our school. The prototype drew a lot of attention and was a great opportunity to interact with other curious and enthusiastic students.

We realized that we would eventually run out of space and paint, so we decided to engage event goers through sidewalk chalk alongside the graffiti wall. Our aim with the sidewalk chalk was that people could sit and rest while still engaging in self expression for us to document.

Graffiti Wall Prototype #2

On October 9th, 2022, during the Heart of LA CicLAvia event, we successfully drew the attention and enthusiasm of many event goers. As event goers began expressing themselves through spray paint, the wall continuously drew in a large crowd throughout the day. Event goers were curious and enthusiastic about expressing themselves through an uncommon medium. Children, teenagers, adults, and elderly audiences all participated.

Bin Gao’s compilation of the most impactful quotes obtained from the Heart of LA, October 9th event.

An especially unique moment was when one woman wrote home on the wall. When we asked her what this meant she responded by saying, “This is home. LA is home” (first picture).

As the day drew to a close, a couple of local graffiti artists who work for MONTANA CANS (picture 5) added their art to the wall. They were happy to see an activity like this because of the stigma graffiti tends to have. Afterwards, we realized there was an opportunity to seek a sustainable partnership for this kind of activity at CicLAvia.

Graffiti art resonates with the LA culture. CicLAvia can collect qualitative data on its community through artistic activities and understand what they care about most. Event goers want to promote their local communities groups, and this was a very successful and eye catching way of doing it!

Iteration #2

After our second prototype, some concerns from the stakeholders were raised about the fumes and the liability of the activity. Although the graffiti wall was hugely successful, the organization didn’t want to overlap an intervention like ours with another kind of intervention that was already scheduled by another NGO; LA COMMONS, and A PLACE CALLED HOME. We set up interviews with both organizations and planned to document people’s reactions to their activities along side interviews about how community neighbors feel about CicLAvia as a whole.

Interviews with Cultural Activists

Our interview with Kaitwan went well. We learned they were doing a “Cultural Treasures” map, where participants can write on a sticky note or get their polaroid taken, then place it on a map of the South LA CicLAvia route.

The purpose of this exercise was to learn more about what people enjoy about the neighborhood and where to find them.

Interview with LA Commons

Interview with A Place Called Home

CicLAvia improving Communities

As December 4th South LA event drew near, we wanted to really hone in on how CicLAvia impacts the communities they host. We knew people love CicLAvia, but we didn’t have much qualitative data on how CicLAvia directly benefits the community, if any.

Event day came and unfortunately, we were down one teammate who got sick! However, that didn’t deter us. As we began walking the route, we came across Rafael Neiborg, who was cleaning bikes on his property. He told us how much he loves CicLAvia because they come in and clean the streets of trash and abandoned cars, how he and his neighbors come outside to clean the alleys, and how CicLAvia makes people feel safe in a neighborhood that generally people avoid, like South LA.

Rafael Neiborg

Our excitement was ignited, this is exactly the qualitative data that we were looking for!

Our next in depth interview was at a local taco joint that was unlisted on Google maps. We learned that CicLAvia drives big business for them, however their neighbors, who sell phones and phone accessories, did not have the same success as them and opted to stay closed for the day.

This was something we thought was really interesting, and as we observed the rest of the route, we noticed that many restaurants had huge crowds.

This was an awesome find, because it was real proof that CicLAvia positively impacts local businesses!

A story about CicLAvia

After the December 4th South LA event, we watched all our footage, and began gathering the most impactful quotes and insights. Andrés edited our final video as well as mastering all the audio (which was quite the feat in itself because a lot of our audio was much lower quality than we had hoped for), and Bin created the credits at the end.

As Andrés put the clips together, I conceived the story and script. We wanted the video to demonstrate how CicLAvia empowers communities, especially those like South LA, where people tend to be on guard and generally try to avoid.

Video editing by Andrés Muñoz, storytelling by me, and credits by Bin Gao.

I paid special attention to my tone when narrating and story construction, with the aim to emphasize how CicLAvia improves communities through services like street cleaning, providing safety, and attracting people to neighborhoods they wouldn’t normally go, resulting in increased sales for local businesses and an overall positive experience in the community.

Overall, I’m very happy with how the video came out, and it was a lot of fun recording the material as well as collaborating on the creation process!

Statistical Overview

My final contribution to this project was a Statistical Overview, created from UCLA studies (which Tina forwarded to us during our interview!) conducted at CicLAvia events, from 2014 – 2016 (found here). I wanted the graphic to be stylized, yet welcoming, just like CicLAvia events!

Statistical Overview by me, created in Illustrator.

The intention for this Statistical Overview flyer is to be handed out during outreach to help persuade dubious business owners, and during CicLAvia events, where event goers can get some hard numbers about the types of benefits that CicLAvia brings communities.


When we first started out on this journey, we really had no idea what to expect. In the beginning, I admit, we felt quite lost. However, after we learned that documenting businesses wasn’t the route to take and began wondering if documenting event goers was the way, I’d say the graffiti wall on October 9th during the DTLA event was a huge success.

Something we noticed that day, however, were the homeless people still in tents on the CicLAvia route, which put a bad taste in our mouths. We felt like CicLAvia came in, threw a party, and left, ignoring the social issues around them. Additionally, when these concerns were brought up in stakeholder meetings, it felt like they danced around the issue. Despite these observations though, the December 4th event in South LA definitively changed our perspectives on CicLAvia’s impacts.

Bringing increased sales to local businesses and restaurants, cleaning the streets of garbage and debris, neighbors feeling safe and coming together, and healthy life styles being promoted through physical activities all told us that CicLAvia was beneficial to the communities that host their events. Ultimately, we realized that CicLAvia isn’t just a bike event, its a social gathering where people and communities are connected and uplifted.

I had an absolute blast working on this project with Andrés Muñoz, Bin Gao, and Chrissy Stevens. Our synergy throughout this project was incredible, and I’m amazed and proud of our CicLAvia findings.

Tess Dziallo