Riding for peace, love and family in South LA

by Jessica Kendall-Bar

imageThe South LA ride and festival organized by Shuntain Thomas of the Real Rydaz brought people from many different parts of Los Angeles to Vermont and Exposition to ride together on July 1. With support from other local bike clubs, including the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz, the Real Rydaz led this ten mile bike ride through South Los Angeles. They encourage being active and fighting obesity by biking in the local community. They raised awareness of the problem of child obesity by having the bike tour end with live performances from local artists, a raffle bike give-away, and presentations by health outreach services.

imageShuntain Thomas, the Real Rydaz, and We Are Responsible People (WARP) worked to create this event not only to spread awareness of the possible health problems related with inactivity, but also to encourage the creation of bike lanes and bike friendly city planning in South L.A. This year has given rise to many more bike lanes than in previous years, but safety concerns still exist. There are complicated intersections which make community members concerned that children or other bikers may be hit by trains and cars. The Real Rydaz surpassed many obstacles in acquiring the needed permits for the ride and put on an event which effectively brought people together to celebrate their community and what it has to offer.

South LA bicycle clubs welcome the city to Watts Towers

By Ride SouthLA

A hundred cyclists are expected on Sunday June 17 for a group ride to celebrate and test a community bicycling map in South Los Angeles. They will receive free copies of the first map from RideSouthLA.com, a coalition of groups promoting bicycling in South LA and revealing community assets like the Watts Towers along a recommended bike route. The group ride starts at 10am at Augustus Hawkins Nature Park (5790 Compton Ave.), continues to the iconic Watts Towers, runs along the Metro Blue Line, and includes a visit of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee before looping back to the Nature Park.

The partners behind this effort point to a broad social agenda — from city planning to bicycle and social change advocacy. Central partners include T.R.U.S.T. South LA, Bikerowave, the East Side Riders Bike Club and C.I.C.L.E.. This return ride challenges cyclists to find what the print map is missing, and invites them to add their own live stream of pictures highlighting neighborhood assets they feel should be added. “We support basic cell phones — anything that can take pictures,” said Professor François Bar of the University of Southern California, which advised the project on technology.

“Our goal with each map project is to bring awareness to a different aspect of South LA culture that is easy to bike to and enjoy for both residents and visitors.” declared Tafarai Bayne, Community Affairs Manager with T.R.U.S.T. South LA. Sunday’s route is co-led by the East Side Riders (ESR), one of the bicycle clubs and education groups that calls Watts and Florence-Firestone home. “We see the map and the rides as a way to advocate for safe biking, but also for community service and engagement” said John Jones, who co-directs ESR. Other South LA bicycle clubs will be represented as well, including the Real Rydaz, the Compton Schwinn Masters, and the newly formed Los Ryderz.

For more information, visit RideSouthLA.com

New map points to the next ride in South LA at CicLAvia

By Benjamin Stokes

On Sunday, a team called RideSouthLA celebrated the launch of its new bicycle map to the Watts Towers, handing out copies at the southern tip of the massive CicLAvia festival. The map offers a next ride for CicLAvia enthusiasts, who numbered more than 100,000 pedestrians and cyclists, and filled more than 10 miles of streets, from Boyle Heights to MacArthur Park, seeking to reimagine Los Angeles.

imageProfessor Francois Bar of USC Annenberg Innovation Lab with Tafarai Bayne of T.R.U.S.T. South LA

One answer came with the RideSouthLA map, which was just printed this week. The map provides a “do it yourself” route for a bike ride in South Los Angeles, from the iconic Watts Towers to the wetlands of Augustus Hawkins Park on Compton Avenue. This was the first printing of the map, and more than 400 free copies were distributed, according to organizers.

Several bicycle clubs from South LA were at CicLAvia, including the East Side Riders, which organized a “feeder ride” to CicLAvia as a group. The Riders were eager to view the map, which features photographs of and by several of their members. Their club is a co-sponsor of the RideSouthLA.com website, and they helped pedal-test the route back in January, using their personal cell phones to photograph the Watts Towers and other community treasures worth sharing.

Like CicLAvia, the map is both about alternative transit and social change in Los Angeles.

New map takes bicyclists through South LA

imageSouth Los Angeles organizers are urging people to explore their community in a new way: on their bicycles.

Ride South LA is new cycling map that guides riders through South LA, ending up at the Watts Towers.

Researchers and avid cyclists have been scoping the area for months to set up the route. it was tested by 60 riders in January — using social media mapping tools to gather data and information about which parts of the city people enjoyed and which they didn’t, according to a news release.

The map is available online and will be distributed at this weekend’s Ciclavia event in front of the African American Firefighter Museum on Central Avenue.

The map was compiled not only from rider feedback but also from photos submitted by riders. Those photos can be seen on the printed map.

The organizations behind this project are hoping for broad social change as people experience South LA in a different light.

“Social change with maps only happens if they are integrated into the community’s storytelling network,” said researcher George Villanueva of USC’s Metamorphosis Project in a news release. Storytelling must go “beyond media organizations, and include residents and community-based organizations.”

Ride South LA hopes to continue mapping the South Los Angeles community.

Other organizations behind Ride South LA include T.R.U.S.T. South LA, the Mobile Urban Mapping Project, the Mobile Lab, the Annenberg Innovation Lab and the East Side Riders Bike Club.