Santa Monica’s first Kidical Mass (with support from Safe Routes to School grant funding) successfully drew in quite a a crowd of young kids, toddlers in seats or trailers, and their parents, for a distinctly different vibe than the typical social rides. I absolutely adore efforts like this because they renew my faith that perhaps all is not lost for the project of human civilization. Going back through the pictures for processing, seeing those smiling faces rolling through neighborhood streets, was exactly what I needed after such a crazy week.
As kids rolled into the John Adams Middle School (JAMS) campus, Bikerowave was there lending a helping hand getting bikes tuned up, air in tires and chains lubed. A table was set out with supplies for helmet decorations for the arts and crafts inclined. Some kids opted to do figure 8’s through the basket ball courts.
Longtime Recreation & Parks commissioner Phil Brock and city councilman Terry O’Day were in attendance for opening remarks. Brock recounted his days riding a bike to school in Santa Monica and lamenting the drive and drop off culture that developed in the years since. O’Day emphasized the importance of family focused events toward fostering healthy and sustainable habits and lifestyles. The comments were kept fairly brief, and it was readily apparent the kids were ready to get rolling.
The 2.5 mile ride consisted of a short loop down neighborhood streets and through Clover Park before coming back to JAMS. City Planning and Office of Sustainability Staff, joined by of advocacy groups like Santa Monica Spoke and Sustainable Works, helped lead the ride, with an obviously special interest in safety, especially at intersection. Safe riding tips were announced often and encouraged.
The group featured a broad mix of riders of varying levels and wheel inches. The kids seemed to have more patience than I expected when we would wait for the group to get together again. Smiles were plentiful and at least from my observation within the group, the ride went off without much of an issue. Following the ride, the morning was finished off with a well received pizza party lunch on the front steps of the school auditorium.
A big thanks to everyone who helped put this event together from city staff and local organizations, and to all the kids and parents who came out and made it a great time. Developing a culture of everyday bicycling has to involve kids and families. It’s encouraging to see a good turn out on a first effort, and I hope we see some of these families and kids, no doubt more confident cycling in groups now, having a blast at the first CicLAvia connecting to the coast this Sunday.
(More photos from Kidical Mass here).