Whatever, hipsters. You can have your flirty World Naked Bike Ride through Silver Lake and Echo Park this Saturday.
(Including, via the official event page, a pre-party stocked with "body art" and "liquid courage." Really.)
But the group of cycling organizations behind "Ride South L.A." -- a mapping project that hopes to achieve "social justice" for L.A.'s poorest hood by raising street-level awareness of its particular routes and landmarks -- has bigger plans for the weekend. Here's where to meet, and when, and why:
A hundred cyclists are expected to attend a group ride on Sunday, June 17 that will celebrate and test a South Los Angeles bicycling map developed by USC Annenberg Professor Francois Bar.
They will hand out free copies of the first map from RideSouthLA.com, a coalition of groups that are promoting bicycling in South LA and revealing community assets, including the Watts Towers, along a recommended bike route. The group ride starts at 10 a.m. at Augustus Hawkins Nature Park (5790 Compton Ave.), continues to the iconic Watts Towers, runs along the Metro Blue Line, and includes a visit of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee before looping back to the Nature Park.
"Riders will use custom technology to 'fill in the gaps' with pictures from ordinary cell phones," reads the group's press release.
The more we find out about the event, the more vague we are on how cellphone pics are supposed to lead to social justice. (Unless we all snapped a few shots of the forgotten dreams of South Central Farmers, then spammed City Councilwoman Jan Perry with them 'til they populated her nightmares and spooked her into undoing her precious development deal.)
But the mapping idea is fascinating, if mysterious.
Tafarai Bayne, a lead organizer for Sunday's event, says the route map was created after an exploratory ride that a bunch of biking enthusiasts (and USC folks) took back in January. Their original intent was just to release a basic guide so that other cyclists could explore the unchartered territory of South Los Angeles.
But this coming weekend, says Bayne, the map will hopefully be fleshed out -- in real time! -- as bikers Tweet photos of the scenery with the hashtag #RideSouthLA. The best ones will then be re-Tweeted by @ParTourLA.
After the ride is over, organizers plan to incorporate these new photos and experiences into their original map (pictured below; click to enlarge).
Bayne also shares the exciting news that O.N.E. Coconut Water has agreed to meet riders at the Watts Community Labor Action Center and hand out treats. (A little piece of the hipster Eastside, all the way down in South L.A.! Take that, naked people.)
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Another awesome thing we learned today: One of the involved orgs says it has "partnered with CicLAvia" to "work toward the expansion of the route into the heart of South L.A."
So the cycling event that saved Los Angeles might just throw a lifeboat to our neglected southern parts next year.
Social justice, indeed. Wrap your head around that one, NYT.