Flor y Canto Presents:

RECOGNIZE: Snapshots of Los Angeles Bike Riders

Saturday, June 4th thru Someday
Bike Summer 2005

 Los Angeles, California.
   The name itself conjures up the automobile. Since the introduction of that metal beast on our streets, the City has been defined and shaped by the needs of the car. It has dictated our geography and has imposed itself on our daily human interactions, effectively weaving itself into the fabric of our relationships. The way we meet, the manner in which we plan reunions, the unmentioned assumption of our gatherings,  the car is the common backdrop.  The unquenchable need of these machines for petrol, concrete, and asphalt roads assures the continued separation of the human communities they pretend to serve. The geographical isolation they create and the Personal Armored Space they enclose are social designs that discourage communication amongst neighbors and cultivates alienation.
   The endless roads that are meant to forever constrain Los Angeles in the Car Culture have also encouraged one tiny seed of their own destruction: the lowly little bicycle. This human-scale contraption of metal, chains, and rubber tubes is desperately trying to instill a new vision for Los Angeles, one that questions the wasteful and unsustainable consumption of Natures elements and encourages authentic communication and interaction. Though these lands may be the birth place of the SUV and the Hummer, they are as well the soil that breeds their antagonism, the place where the viable alternative of Biking may yet take root and show us a new way forward.
   But just as the car sped in imposing its drastic demands on our city, the emergence of the new Bike Kulture in Los Angeles has also arrived with it's own well-intentioned baggage. Heavily armed with a simplistic Good vs. Bad moralism, a religious fervor that will only tolerate Auto-abstinence, many potential allies have already been lost. Angelenos have endless reasons for mounting a saddle, they include ecological, health, empowerment, self-reliance, and political but since these disparate bike riders have not formed an ideology to cement their ties, they've been effectively overlooked as participants of the emerging bike scene. The new biking Kulture also packs a lifestyle, one to which many are not inclined to submit. Some prefer regular clothes over a spandex getup, hair-in-the-wind instead of a plastic helmet, biking for sheer joy rather than a political philosophy. The bike Kulture instantly acknowledges its own but seems hesitant to recognize the LA bikerider that has been here for years, fighting against traffic and resiliently peddling on despite the pollution. The riders that we see everyday going to work, taking a cruise around the block, trying out new tricks, inventing the lowrider, or just running errands, they've somehow become mere background noise, or worse, invisible.
   Before a great many Angelenos are written out of this next chapter of our cities history, a few of the volunteers from Flor y Canto thought it might be useful and interesting to contribute this event for Bike Summer 2005, to both encourage biking and to hopefully expand the parameters of that world. The project was simple enough: go to a street corner, wait for some bikers to pass and ask if they'd like to be interviewed. Therefore, the participants are but a random sliver of the real picture, a small sampling of the actual biking public. The interviews were free-form with just a few general questions to get people talking about their biking experience. This project was born of a desire to spotlight those that are readily visible, not because they need the social gaze for validation, but to show the bike Kulture that it can learn something from what is already here. You don't have to reinvent the, uh, wheel, just to try something new! We hope to shine some light on the common bike rider, to showcase those brave souls that continue to traverse our streets on two wheels and make their own mark, consciously or not, in the forming history of an alternative Los Angeles. They may not command any attention, but history shows that change often comes from forces seemingly unknown. The people we call neighbors and friends, we Recognize as being a fundamental aspect of Los Angeles in transition.
   Thus we give you Recognize: Snapshots of Los Angeles Bike Riders.

Start the Tour!

Photos and text by: Edith Abeyta, Anita Martinez, EL CHAVO!