Don Ward: Advocate of the Year Acceptance Speech

1 4 10 ward

I’m honored to be recognized with the Livable Streets award as Advocate of the Year, and I’m especially humbled to be in the company of last year’s winner Mr. Stephen Box as well as this year’s nominees. There are literally so many people working their bike shaped butts off in the advocacy arena that deserve this more than me but I humbly accept and share with all.

Everyone knows that I am deeply involved in organizing group bike rides and bringing the F.U.N. to the streets… but as I get more active in the civic / governmental arena I look to a highly educated and motivated group of LA cycling and pedestrian activists, volunteers, bloggers, city leaders and government workers for advice, research and inspiration.

The advocacy community that I speak of has been powered every day on the backs of people like Aurisha Smolarski, Alex Thompson, Jessica Meaney, Danny Jimenez, Ron Durgin, Stephen and Enci Box, Joseph Bray-Ali, Ayla Stern, Alexis Lantz, Joe Linton, Glenn Bailey, Damien Newton, Colin Bogart, Herbie Huff, Ted Rogers, Heidi Sickler, Gary Kavanaugh, Liz Elliott, Shay Sanchez, Sara Bond, Rach Stevenson, Mihai Peteu, Sgt David Krumer, Bill Rosendahl, Paul Backstrom, Paul Kirk, Nate Baird, Michelle Mowery, and many many many others… This award is shared with all of them. 

But in addition to the dedicated and inspiring list of advocates I have mentioned I would also like to give a 21 bike salute to the unsung foot soldiers of the Midnight Ridazz community who regularly answer the forum calls for duty providing a crucial and visible volume of emails, phone calls to officials, and bodies and voices at city hall. These Ridazz, many of whom would not so much consider themselves activists but simply concerned citizens, show up to support the cause despite work schedules and real world commitments.

It’s not easy to volunteer to sit through excruciating – maddeningly endless city hall debates, discussions, continuances and excuses that wilt the souls of even the highest paid lobbyists. Not only do these Ridazz show up for the meetings, they ride for justice, they pour “blood” on their sexy selves to protest unjust hit and run sentences, they’ve patiently shown up in waves to perform “civil obedience” against the bike registration program (when it was used as a tool of harassment by the LAPD), they host internet and college radio programs to discuss the issues, they’ve rallied for critical mass / LAPD improved relations, they’ve Stormed the Bastille with Stephen Box, and they’ve spread the “pass with care” message across LA county.

I would like to acknowledge Ridazz like DJ Wheels, Trickmilla, Mr. Rollers, Agent Orange, PC, shotgunBoom, Danya, Ayla, Joe Borfo, MD2, tortuga_veloce, Rick Darge, dudeonabike, Andres84, Sexy, Stillline, MannysCarWash, imachynna, kryxtanicole, Tivu, and so many many more….. without the mass there is no momentum.

Moving forward I challenge the bicycle industry at large to get involved specifically in Los Angeles. For far too long big manufacturers seem to have only focused on the racing aspect of cycling and largely ignored commuter cyclists in LA. Just as the auto and oil interests have wielded their lobbying powers to destroy public and alternative transportation options in our city, the bike industry needs to redouble it’s focus on our fight to restore safety and traffic calming to the streets. It will only help business as people are literally dieing to get out of traffic and out of their cars and into something healthy and sustainable. I’m looking at you Trek, Specialized, Canondale et al… The stage is set in LA for a bike commuter EXPLOSION. Do not squander the opportunity of a life time. A good chunky sized donation to Bikeside, C.I.C.L.E. and LACBC is a good way to start. DO NOT leave us hanging.

Lastly, I have no doubt that 2011 will be another action packed year, so first thing’s first… Vote for Stephen Box in February, support Life B4 License, donate some time to a local bike co-op or non-profit, and continue to ride bicycles and use public transit for the health of the city and most importantly for your own health.

Ride ON

  • Bravo!

  • Yay for Don! One of the coolest things I like about Don is his continual openness and kindness to all – it’s great to be around, he’s a great leader for sure.

  • The term “Advocate of the Year” is not nearly big enough to adequately describe Roadblock’s Herculean efforts to bring about change for the cycling community–and in fact all the various people-centric, on-the-street communities he’s involved with. It’s good to know people like him, and all the advocates/concerned citizens he mentioned above, are out there tirelessly pushing for what’s right and better tomorrow. It’s working, you can see and feel it.

    Here’s to even more progress in 2011!

  • Joe Borfo

    Three years in a row!

  • Gern Trowbridge

    Nicely Done Don!

  • Adam Lawrence

    Well put Don! Thank you man.

  • DJwheels

    Congrats, man. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • Chynna Monforte

    Great speech, congrats! :)

  • M Diddy

    Oh, hell yeah, drinks are on me bro, literally.

    Congratulations. Much deserving.

  • alexis

    YAY Don! Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to FUN as well advocacy! It’s a real pleasure working with you!

  • erind3

    thanks for being a crucial voice in the movement, don. and such an eloquent one at that! you deserve far more kudos than this.

  • Way to go, Don. We couldn’t have made it through the Wilbur Ave kerfuffle without your tireless advocacy.

  • Dede

    Great speech Don! Congrats on your very deserving award :). In my brief encounter with you, I knew you were a person of strong character…so giving & caring and determined to make a difference in something you are passionate about. You were so thoughtful and helpful to my son and myself during that critical time after his bicycle accident in August. Take care and here’s to a great New year.

  • Ayla

    wooo!! congrats! you really do make this city so much better – I would of left LA a long time ago if it weren’t for the amazing bike community you make happen!

  • Don Ward

    Thanks everyone. Really feeling the love.

    @Dede I’m so glad that things worked out as best as could be…. It’s so good to see your son back on a bike and riding strong.

  • Will Campbell

    All I can add is: My MAN! Well-deserved and well said!!

  • Thanks Don! Thanks too to everyone else that’s part of the growing livable streets movement in LA.

  • Congrats, Don! Great work and just to throw it out there, you are also an excellent signature collector! :-)

  • !!!!
    This is so great
    xoxo

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Livable Streets People of the Year

|
This is both my favorite and least favorite column to write.  On one hand, it’s amazing to reflect on all of the people that make up the movement that will change Los Angeles.  On the other hand, trying to decide a “person of the year” from all of those same people is kind of difficult.  […]

And the Winner Is…

|
Bike Story of the Year: Panel’s Pick: Everybody Hates the Bike Plan, The Trial and Conviction of the Road Rage DoctorMy Pick: Hummer Slams Into Cyclist, LAPD Blames Cyclist, Cyclists Swarm City Council and Police Commission I’m not even sure I need to go in to an explanation for any of these stories.  The panel […]

Streetsblog Interview: Andres Tena

|
Back on the bike: Tena after the "Bike Not to Work Day" ride last week. Late one Thursday night, or early on Friday morning depending your point of view, this April an H3 Hummer hit a cyclist, and what followed is a controversy that fuels emotions that rivals last year’s Mandeville Canyon “Road Rage Doctor” […]

From Spokes People to Bikeroots

|
Back in January 2009, Los Angeles Magazine writer Matthew Segal took an assignment as an embedded reporter (so to speak) with bike activists and group riders. The resulting article, titled “Bike Culture: Spokes People,” was a thoughtful five-page assessment of the state of the bike community in Los Angeles from the perspective of a curious […]

The 2009 Streetsies – The Best of Times

|
I thought we would start with the good times of the year.  Tomorrow we’ll look at "the worst of times" and award our stories and advocate of the year awards.  Happy reading! Best Mainstream News Article The Panel’s Choice: Bicycling Magazine Looks at L.A.’s "D.I.Y. Bike Culture"My Choice: Times’ Editorializes for Congestion Pricing Following the […]

City Election Preview: LaBonge vs. Box in CD4

|
For those in the livable streets advocacy community, no city council race has taken on more significance than this one. Here, LA Streetsblog presents a rundown of the two candidates and the livable streets issues at the heart of the race, so that you can make an informed decision. The Incumbent: Tom LaBonge is an […]