50 Cyclists Take to Ballona Creek . . . for Tacos
Recently, bloggers Damien Newton and Will Campbell have headed an effort get cyclists to take greater ownership of the Ballona Creek Bike Path. Recently, the LA City Council closed a gate to the bike path on the basis that gangs are using it to perpetrate crimes. So, in order to foster a sense of ownership of the path, and inform cyclists about the political battle around the gate the Concerned Bicyclists of the Ballona Creek have planned a ride for next Saturday.
But the truth is, a group of cyclists already has been taking CEREAL (translation: serious) ownership of the path. This Tuesday I went to my first Taco Tuesdays, an awesome nighttime social ride on the Westside that ends in a taco gorgy at Cinco de Mayo. The Ballona Creek Bike Path has been the site of several muggings and, according to residents, rampant gang activity. So, I was a suprised and nervous when the ride turned onto the path and all 50 of us took the path 5 1/2 miles from Duquesne Ave in Culver City to Mustache Bridge at it’s end.
This was right at the beginning of Taco Tuesdays, and as the ride got warmed up and we passed under the 405, a small group up front started to hustle. When a gap between the hustlers and the main group developed, Ryan Ashford and I double hustled up to the front to slow them down. But we like to hustle to. So, when we got there, we were all “slow down”, and then we jumped out front, and laid down a 4 mile sprint. Pacelining Ballona Creek in the dark at 26 mph, rooting it good, I was unable to spot any gang activity. Except of course the gang of 50 cyclists massaging the path with the rubber side down.
(L to R: Chloe, Vlad, Alex T, and Sara, looking like doofuses on Mustache Bridge after the hustle. Photo by Sean M.)
After we hustled we cooled it for a while and then watched the main group come in. Imagine 35 blinking lights coming out of complete darness, along a path that is feared by residents and cyclists alike. It was a strong visual demonstrating that more use, not less, is the solution to the path’s problem. If only a fraction as many cyclists used the path on a regular basis, the ability of people to misuse the path for crime would be substantially reduced.
Taco Tuesdays has been doing just that. In it’s 18 ride history, “X-Large”, who organizes the ride along with Richie and Ceasar, estimates that nine Taco Tuesdays rides of twenty or more cyclists have travelled the length of the path. “Even before Taco Tuesday’s, Richie and Ceasar and I were riding it together at night for practice,” he said. Twenty cyclists to the end and then back to boathouse is 20 x 6.1 = 122 rider miles. If attendance is 50 like this last ride, that’s more than 300 rider miles. That’s some CEREAL riding!
Now, I know that the Concerned Bicyclists of the Ballona Creek have more in mind for their Saturday ride, but I think some recognition is in order for what Taco Tuesdays is doing. Taco Tuesdays didn’t set out to “retake the path”, but simply by providing a fun reason to ride, by being an awesome biking event, they’ve inadvertently taken a strong ownership of the path at a time when even Will Campbell is fearful of riding it (but he did ride it at night.) That is the beauty of Midnight Ridazz – by using public places for what they were meant for – public enjoyment – we’re transforming LA. And it’s all fun.
Come on Concerned Bicyclists – I dare you to check out Taco Tuesdays and give them some CEREAL face to face props! Tuesdays, leaving CRANK MOB PARK (aka Media Park at Venice & Canfield) at 8 pm.