As part of the 10th annual Bike to Work Day on May 20, Good Samaritan Hospital is borrowing from a New York City tradition by hosting L.A.'s first Blessing of the Bicycles.
The 8 a.m. event is aimed at kicking off a safe cycling season, and is expected to draw more than 100 racers, commuters, recreational bikers and bike messengers, who frequently weave in and out of Downtown traffic.
Good Samaritan chaplain Rev. Jerry Anderson will offer a blessing to the cyclists, and will sprinkle each bike with holy water for safe pedaling. Participants will also observe a moment of silence to remember those who have been injured or killed in cycling accidents during the past year.
Following the moment of silence, hospital President Andrew Leeka will ask that those present join him to help honor the healing going on inside the facility.
"This is the first time this has been done in L.A.," said Leeka, an avid cyclist. "It is important because it fits with our mission. We have the second largest open-heart program in Southern California and a lot of our services are focused on heart health and illness prevention."
Leeka said the hospital is starting a Good Sam Bicycle Club with custom jerseys that feature the Downtown skyline. The club will organize local rides, including centuries, 100-mile rides completed during the course of a day.
The Blessing of the Bicycles will take place in the hospital's parking lot at 616 S. Witmer St. (between Wilshire and Sixth St.), and will feature celebrity guests, music, food and giveaways. Information will also be available about safe riding on city streets and rural paths.
Avid cyclist and former Mayor Richard Riordan is expected to turn out, as is a large bike messenger population. Bycycle Kitchen and the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition are also event sponsors, and will offer tips and handouts.
Bicyclists are also invited to participate on Friday, May 21 in another bike-to-work day, this one organized by the League of American Bicyclists. According to a Bike to Work Day survey by Metro, nearly 40% of those who participated in a Bike to Work Day event were first time bike commuters and 32% have continued to bike to work since the event.
"We are encouraging people to ride their bikes to work," Leeka said. "I rode my bike to work today from La Canada and set a record. I was really cranking at 40 minutes."
Blessing of the Bicycles is 8-9 a.m. at 616 S. Witmer St. Call (213) 977-2911. For Bike to Work Day information, visit www.mta.net/biketowork/default.htm
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