CityWatch, Dec 15, 2009
Vol 7 Issue 102
Global warming, animal rights and traffic congestion have prompted Santa Claus and his helpers to give up the traditional sleigh in favor of bicycles as they get an early start spreading good cheer and delivering gifts to Los Angeles.
On the Westside, cyclists from all over the city rode to Venice Beach where they invited the homeless to join them on the "Pedal with Me" bike ride, an invitation that came complete with the gift of a bike.
For a few hours 100 cyclists rode the streets on the social ride organized by the Bikerowave, a bike co-op that simply promises to do two things, make friends and get them on bikes. Bikerowave volunteers worked for months collecting and rebuilding bikes in partnership with United Steps which contends "a bike can be the first step to mobility, perhaps key to landing a job interview, then a job, then a career, then . . . a home."
In Hollywood, theLA Greensters loaded their bikes with gifts collected from the community and rode on the "El Niño Toy Ride" which benefited the children at St. Anne's, a resident facility that addresses the needs of young women and their children.
St. Anne's has a long legacy as a social services agency and recently celebrated their 100th anniversary. Unfortunately they have also been victim of these lean times and they have lost some of their traditional sponsors.
This year the children were in danger of celebrating the holidays without gifts until Jeremy Grant heard of their plight and led the Greensters on a bike ride that is going to make a difference in the holidays for the 150 who live at St. Anne's.
On the Eastside, seven different bike rides converged on the Olvera Street Gazebo for the 4th annual Midnight Ridazz All City Toy Ride. Participants rode from Long Beach, Montebello, the Valley, the Westside, NELA, Hollywood and Central LA, all with gifts that went to the East Los Angeles Women's Center.
Each of the seven rides had a unique spoke card and cyclists rode in the rain and then celebrated with an afterparty that went on through the night. Santa would have been proud!
The next time you see a group of cyclists riding on the streets of Los Angeles, pause for a moment and be thankful, for each one of them represents a car that's not in your way. But most of all, give thanks and remember that they may be some of Santa's helpers and they may have something for you!
(Stephen Box is a cyclist advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at Stephen@ThirdEyeCreative.net)