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Observers of the Spectacle: South L.A. Residents Greet Cyclists on Sunday’s Peace, Love, and Family Ride

3:03 PM PDT on July 2, 2012

Yesterday, the Peace, Love, and Family Ride rolled through South L.A., ably led by the Real Rydaz.

The first inclination after any major ride involving more than 100 riders is to post tons of photos of the happy cyclists. And while it was wonderful to see so many folks of all shapes and sizes rolling slowly, joyfully, and peacefully along major thoroughfares Vermont and Figueroa Aves., the best reward had to be the surprised looks of the spectators crowding in windows and doorways, waving, smiling, shouting greetings, and taking photos.

So, I started photographing them. They are not the best photos I have ever taken, by a long shot. But they are striking for the extent to which they illustrate the physical barriers to recreation that many of the residents face. The need for safety and security means bars and gates are prominent features on the landscape. Poor planning in these communities means that tall gates sometimes stand right outside people's doors, limiting their ability to move around or experience the outdoors at their own residences as open and inviting. True, much of L.A. is gated and walled -- this is nothing new. But the prevalence of such high gates ringing residences so tightly set me thinking about the mental barriers to community building and communication that the physical ones can create.

As discussed in my preview article on the event, we all are aware that a bike ride can't solve everything. But, hopefully, more frequent group rides through such neighborhoods can inspire neighbors to see more recreational possibilities in their communities. If nothing else, residents' sheer delight at seeing the riders certainly seems a powerful vote in favor of more such events.

Thanks to all that rode yesterday, and especially the Real Rydaz for their able shepherding of the group. For those that participated in the ride, photos of riders are posted on my facebook page.

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