Last weekend, a coalition of bicycling and community groups hopped on their two-wheelers for a group ride through South Los Angeles, touring healthy food spots in neighborhoods that are sometimes described as "food deserts."
South L.A. is known for a lack of fresh food options, an abundance of fast food and a high rate of obesity -- but this bike ride aims to show something different.
"This easy and celebratory ride will feature stops by local community gardens, and show how bicycling can be a bridge to many hidden local food resources," according to a statement from Ride South L.A., the group organizing the ride.
Anyone with a bike was invited to meet at Mercado La Paloma on Grand Avenue at 10 a.m. to push off on a test run of the group's new Healthy Food Map of South L.A. The map, which is also available online, is meant to show the public that healthy living is possible in this community.
"First we emphasize buying healthy food locally, and then healthy activities like bike rides and gardening," said Ride South. "Yet our map is also a tool for social change. It argues for the future of South Los Angeles, and how our community can grow while deepening our distinctive culture."
This Healthy Food map has been in the works for about six months, and is a collaboration of organizations throughout the city that have a "focus on bicycle and social change advocacy." Contributors used digital tools and their own two feet to develop this map and make it available online and in print.
Ride South said more than 100 pedestrians and cyclists from the local community helped explore the streets to find neighborhood gardens, healthy choice grocery stores and safe pedestrian access.
"My hope is that this map will allow us to bring to light some of the many efforts to address food access in South Los Angeles,” said Tafarai Bayne of T.R.U.S.T. South LA. "Both visitors and residents can use the map to find all kinds of local resources, some obvious and some not so."
Stops along the map's route include the Fresh & Easy market on Figueroa and the USC Urban Garden. Organizers chose these specific paths because they were the ones with shade, safe crossings, street lighting, bike lanes and less traffic.
For anyone who weren't able to join in Sunday's ride led by the East Side Riders, the map will be available online for use at any other time.