On Sunday, June 17, RideSouthLA is organizing its second official participatory mapping bicycle ride of South Los Angeles. The 10-mile ride will begin at 10 a.m. at the Augustus Hawkins Nature Park and will head south along Metro’s Blue Line, finishing up at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. The approximately four-hour tour will be led by the East Side Riders Bicycle Club.
RideSouthLA is a relatively recent partnership between the Annenberg School of Communication and Trust South LA, an urban land trust and community development organization. Born out of the award-winning mobile voices project, RideSouthLA seeks to become a new platform for interacting with government. Francois Bar, professor of Communication at Annenberg and one of the founders of the group, saw the need for a way to engage with citizens beyond community meetings. RideSouthLA instead invites people to take to their bicycles for what the group has termed “situated engagement.”
The group organized its first group ride in January of 2012, where the roughly 70 participants used Annenberg’s ParTour Cell phone technology to “map” many of the neighborhoods of South Los Angeles. The ride was designed to both reacquaint locals with their neighborhood, as well as to invite newcomers to see firsthand the many cultural treasures of South Los Angeles. According to organizer Tafarai Bayne of Trust South LA, “we wanted to counter some of the misconceptions people have about South Los Angeles, such as the notion that it isn’t bike-able, or that there isn’t a strong sense of community.”
Data compiled from the ride was later work-shopped into a easily downloadable map of the route, which was distributed at CicLAvia as well as to local businesses. The group is currently pairing city bicycle maps with hyper-local maps, so potential riders can first track bike routes, and then dive deeply into culture and offerings on bike. Their hope is that the map will be a jumping off point for larger conversations with city planners and residents about economic development, social justice, and environmental equity.
RideSouthLA connects participants to city planning by using data from the ride to identify community priorities, such as highlighting vacant lots that are good sites for bicycle hubs and housing redevelopment. Says organizer Benjamin Stokes, “Most importantly, we connect across city agencies, and as such help different city experts synthesize at the local neighborhood level, since each neighborhood must always integrate transit, redevelopment, and more. We’re always looking for more opportunities to directly link to city services, so city managers and advocates with ideas for partnership should send their ideas our way!”
Check out the event’s Facebook page.