Fred Buggs, Tafarai Bayne and Chuck Standokes on Florence Ave. in South L.A.
As a child, I had dreamed of becoming a diplomat. A product of the cold war who occasionally had nightmares involving mushroom clouds, I threw myself into Soviet Studies in college, honed my skills in several of the UN’s official languages, and prepared intensely for the foreign service exam. When the cold war ended (with no help from me, I might add), I shelved my ambassadorial aspirations.
Thanks to the LACBC’s Neighborhood Bike Ambassador Program, it looks like I will be able to dust off those lofty aspirations and put them to use in South L.A.
Admittedly, bike ambassadorhood is not on the same level with preventing a nuclear holocaust. Still, I enjoyed the first meeting, convened last week at USC, and look forward to working with the LACBC and others in South L.A. to engage local communities and officials about cycling issues.
The program, as presented by LACBC Policy and Campaigns Manager Alek Bartrosouf, seeks to build grassroots support among neighborhood councils and community groups for the implementation of bike projects. This support is necessary, the LACBC contends, to ensure that the city follows through on promises to implement elements of the bike plan and other bike-related projects. Without voices in favor of these projects, loud voices complaining about the inconveniences of bike lanes, bike corrals, and the like may be the only ones heard, giving the city an excuse to back away from its promises to cyclists.
Ambassadors will be tasked with building that support in four key ways: advocacy (attending neighborhood council meetings and pressuring local officials), communication (educating cyclists and non-cyclists about the benefits of bicycle infrastructure, bike etiquette, etc.), events (holding fun events to attract people to and inform communities about cycling), and membership (building a base of members within the LACBC to give it a greater presence in the political process). Read more…