Spreading the Gospel of CicLAvia in Southeast L.A.
One of the great things about the rise in riding events in South L.A. and the surrounding areas is that they are starting to take on the feel of a family reunion for me.
Not that I have a large family in the U.S. or that I have ever been to a family reunion. But if I had, I would imagine that they would feel somewhat like one of these rides.
The faces are all becoming more and more familiar, a few crazy uncles are always around to make sure that everyone has a good time, and there is always the possibility that law enforcement may show up to keep the party in check.
The rides are also hitting their own, powerful rhythm. Although this weekend’s ride was held outside the boundaries of South L.A. and put on by the CicLAvia Southeast Host Committee, groups such as the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz de YO Watts can always be counted on to show up in force and prepared to take on any kind of bike-related disaster. Both groups were essential to managing the crowd and fixing bikes (and the occasional crashed rider) that broke down along the way.
Committee member Mayra Aguilar explained that they were working to host regular rides in the area to explore routes and gather the momentum to bring a CicLAvia-style event to cities in the Southeast area.
It’s no easy proposition to hold an event there. Even along the short, five-mile trek from La Curacao plaza, we managed to cut through three small cities (Huntington Park, Walnut Park, and South Gate). A longer route could pose significant challenges with regard to coordination among host cities.
Riders cared more about the keeping moving in the 85-degree heat than the politics. The approximately 300 cyclists that showed up simply wanted to ride and promote cycling in the area. Everyone I spoke with was inspired by the potential of a CicLAvia coming to the area and pleased by the excitement the ride generated among shoppers and passersby. If you’d like to support the the Host Committee’s efforts, check them out here. More photos from the ride are here.