Bicycle enthusiasts pedal through Downey

DOWNEY - Last Saturday I joined a couple dozen other enthusiastic participants in a bicycle ride through Downey, a ride that organizer Steve Perez hopes will become a monthly tradition through different sections of the city. Most of us met at Apollo Park shortly before 8 a.m., though the ride's two refreshment stops provided treats along the course until about 10.Perez, The Green Gardener, has been a visible and active proponent of environmental sustainability in the Downey community for some time, and can be seen on Downey streets riding a heavy-duty tricycle, loaded with equipment, to his professional landscaping commitments. He is also vice-chair of the City of Downey Green Task Force. About half of Saturday's ridership consisted of members of the Kiwanis Green Team, led by DUSD teacher Alex Gaytan. Both Gaytan and Perez are members of Downey Kiwanis clubs, which have provided considerable moral and financial support to the Green Team over the last couple of years. Most of this year's Green Team are high school students, and Saturday's ride also included one or two team members who will take the group's environmental priorities off to college this fall. In addition to its own activities, the Green Team can be counted on to support all environmentally conscious efforts in the City of Downey, having garnered attention and appreciation from City officials and citizens, most recently at an installation of drought tolerant landscaping sprucing up the entrance to Furman Park. This installation was jointly sponsored by Keep Downey Beautiful and the Green Task Force and was funded by a grant from Lowe's. Green Team members contributed many hours getting the new plantings into the ground just before the beginning of the City's Twilight Summer Concert Series. Two other distinguishable groups completed the numbers of those participating in last Saturday's ride. The first was the two families of Esteban and Cristina and Tony, who brought their young children--all the kids appropriately attired in bicycle helmets, including a couple of bright pink bikes along with the ever popular "Hello, Kitty" fashion statement. The remaining group consisted of unaffiliated sixty-somethings--notable to me because I, too, am in my sixties. There were Gary, Richard, Jimmie, and another gentleman whose name I didn't catch. The multi-generational participation of high-schoolers, young families, and seniors was an especially satisfying aspect of the ride. Departing west from Apollo Park on Quill, the ride followed a six-mile course that traversed a section of the Rio Hondo Bike Path, then meandered briefly through residential West Downey, starting at Crawford Park, before a refreshment stop of fresh muffins, thanks to Mark Shelton at the Rio Hondo Event Center. Continuing east to Furman Park, the ride then returned to Apollo Park on Rives Avenue, where riders were treated to root beer floats served by volunteer Alice Stafford and contributed by Dr. Dwayne Jenkins of Caremore Medical Group. Furthermore, Downey Wholistic Center provided massages at ride's end in exchange for a free-will donation. Rick Rodriguez of RMI Security and Gilbert Alarcon of Avenue Press also provided support. To conclude, while my column typically devotes itself to a discussion of environmental issues and their impact on our culture, it's appropriate to stop for a moment and reflect in appreciation for a community supported activity which, while it speaks softly to the issues of sustainability, was just plain fun.

********** Published: August 30, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 20