DOWNEY - You can toss a coin as to which of the three environmental issues broached here last week best merits further development. Is it the ongoing problem of how to deal with the trash we've run out of resources and space for? Is it the wanton slaughter of the African elephant population for their ivory tusks? Or is it our gas-guzzling American addiction to fossil fuel in the 250,000,000 vehicles we own here in the U.S. - 700 vehicles for every 1,000 citizens, according to the National Public Radio feature quoted here last week .Well it turns out the newly formed Downey Bicycle Coalition is setting out to address the latter. In our fair city of Downey, whose infrastructure is ideally suited to the quintessentially American suburban automobile culture of the 1960's and '70's, the DBC is a breath of fresh air, an up and coming group of folks that most of all love to cycle, but also recognize the benefits of cycling to the health of the community's residents, its potential for decreasing street congestion, and, not least of all, the fact that bicycling is fossil-fuel-free, and consequently better for the air we breathe and better for reducing that nonrenewable resource that's proving ever more difficult to wring from the earth. The DBC is affiliated with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and consequently with the California Bicycle Coalition, giving it access to resources that will facilitate developing a bicycle community, and ultimately a bicycle infrastructure in the City of Downey. The LACBC has been helping local bicycle groups for the last fifteen years. Along with Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation, which actively promotes the development and maintenance of infrastructure for bicycling and walking, the City of Downey is a prime candidate for bicycle advancement among the Gateway Cities, situated as it is between the Los Angeles and San Gabriel riverbeds, both of which already have bike paths. Downey is not alone in this. An ever-increasing number of nearby cities is working on bicycle advancement. Close to Downey, both South Gate and Lynwood have draft Bicycle Transportation Plans already in place. These plans outline the city's intentions to develop infrastructure and increase bicycle activity over the next several years. Through this medium, which is a requirement for state funding, both cities have mapped out their intentions as far ahead as 2035. In the short term, the Downey Bicycle Coalition is encouraging residents to get out and ride. Specifically, the DBC has scheduled a community bike ride for Saturday, January 26, with more rides to take place on a monthly basis every fourth Saturday. This activity has actually been taking place informally since last summer, spearheaded by local environmentalist and bicycle enthusiast, Steve Perez, with significant involvement from a number of Kiwanis youth groups led by DUSD teacher Alex Gaytan. The Jan. 26 ride will depart from Apollo Park, where riders are encouraged to arrive beginning at 8 a.m. Following some riding and safety tips, the ride will depart by 8:30 up Rives Avenue to Furman Park. This distance is recommended as a good length for family rides including young children. From Furman Park the ride will progress via Third Street to the Farmers' Market, and then back to Apollo Park via Downey Avenue and Quill Street. This is of course a public ride on public streets, so safety is a priority, and riders will therefore be required to wear helmets and sign waivers. Riders thirteen and under will need to be under adult supervision. So put Saturday, January 26, on your calendar, and come out for an enjoyable community bike ride that will also serve the purpose of bringing the community's attention to the benefits of cycling for the City of Downey and its residents.
********** Published: January 17, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 40