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Downtown Bike Commuters Find Safety and Fun in Group Rides

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 3:00 pm

By Ryan Vaillancourt

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – When it comes to riding a bicycle, especially on city streets, the rule of safety in numbers applies.

A group of cyclists pedaling at the same pace is simply more visible to car drivers. There’s another plus about riding in a group: It’s more fun.

Those beliefs led cycling advocates Nona Varnado and Bruce Chan to form L.A. Bike Trains, an upstart organization that hosts weekly morning rides between various residential neighborhoods and employment hubs.

By creating a group setting to ride to work, Bike Trains hopes to inspire people to ditch their cars and take to the streets on two wheels. It seems to be getting some traction: After launching in May with four routes, Bike Trains is now up to nine routes, four of which culminate in Downtown (other destinations include Long Beach and Santa Monica).

“Our number one target audience is the people who basically don’t feel comfortable riding by themselves,” Varnado said. “They might not have any experience or might not know how to get there.”

Here’s how it works: Would-be participants pick a route that corresponds with their commute (most rides start in the Silver Lake/Los Feliz area). Riders convene at a starting point and roll out by 8 a.m. Downtown destinations include Fifth and Olive streets and Seventh Street and Grand Avenue. Some routes pick up regular riders along the way

Each ride is led by a “conductor,” an experienced cyclist with safety training for riding in the street.

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