This past Sunday, June 27, 2010 I got up early and rode my bakfiets from Lincoln Heights down to Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles for the the 2nd Annual Pershing Square Discovery Ride organized by the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation.
I got there just as the bulk of ride participants were arriving and getting ready to mount their bikes. There was a yoga warm up and a bit of time to mill around before the send off.
I was impressed with the route, which took people all around Downtown Los Angeles. It crossed over several beautiful bridges, visited tons of different districts, and would give the sporty weekend bike riding crowd an intimate look at the old city center.
There were early signs that this wasn’t the type of event I’d show up for in my personal time: beach cruiser on the publicity material; “registration” to ride on an open course tour of Downtown on public streets; no metro or bike directions on the home page for the event (but very specific driving directions); and, a requirement that all riders wear a helmet.
The helmet bit is fine if it included a provision about where one should wear the helmet. I think it’d do more help wearing it while driving to the event (a dangerous activity judging by the injury and crash numbers on any given weekend in L.A.), the organizers think that it’s critical to do it while riding a bike.
These are my own person quibbles, and have more to do with my ideology rather than any fault of the hard-nosed organizers of the event who have to deal with all sorts of logistical, social, political, and legal issues to get an event like this put together. Still, it would be nice to see official policies about helmet use and practices that encourage driving to be amended.
I had to leave early to open the shop for the day, so I missed out on most of the fun. I did get a call from my good friend Carlos Morales of the East Side Bike Club a few hours after leaving. Sponsors of the event were allowed to speak to the crowd briefly. When the Flying Pigeon LA shop was called up to speak Morales cleverly got me on a cell phone and held it up to the mic. His idea worked, and I got to participate in a very fun high tech conference call with a couple of hundred cyclists while simultaneously truing a wheel.
There are a few more photos of the event I’ve posted online in a Flickr set for the 2010 Pershing Square Discovery Ride. KPCC had a reporter and a photographer on the scene. You can catch their coverage in an article entitled “Cyclists tour LA and kick off summer arts at Pershing Square“