Welcome Andy Rodriguez, LACBC’s Newest Staff MemberOctober 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Bike News | 1 Comment
Tags: city of lights
Meet Andy Rodriguez, our new Bilingual Bicycle Safety Coordinator!
Whatever your stereotype of bike activists may be, think again. Andy Rodriguez’s story shows a kind of biker, and bike activist, that often goes invisible behind the widespread image of bikers as airbrushed, affluent athletes in Spandex. Andy, along with Allison Mannos, is one of the co-founders of City of Lights, the nationally recognized program that gives safety and maintenance lessons and distributes safety equipment like lights and safety vests to working class, mostly Latino cyclists in various sites around Los Angeles.
A volunteer for many years with LACBC and City of Lights, Andy is now the Bilingual Bicycle Safety Coordinator. Andy’s position has been made possible through a generous Capacity Building Grant from the Alliance for Biking and Walking. Thank you, Alliance! The grant was awarded to extend CoL’s programming to more low-income areas, create an outreach team, and develop Spanish print and video PSAs. Follow along with Andy’s story by listening to the clips (Tracks 1, 2, and 3) at the bottom of this post.
Andy grew up mostly in the Westlake/Historic Filipinotown part of Los Angeles, where he would ride his bike with the neighborhood kids often. Bikes, for Andy, weren’t an “alternative” means of transportation; they were the primary means of transportation (Track 1).
Andy got involved in organizing City of Lights when Allison Mannos, who had been attending Los Angeles City College with him at the time, invited him to join her in bringing the program to life about three years ago. He was a perfect fit for the project, having grown up in the world of working class Latino bike riders. He comes to bike activism through his passion for helping people like him and like the kids he grew up with. Here he talks about his first bike group, which sounds like a lot of fun (Track 2).
City of Lights fills an urgent need in bike activism around the country. There are very few programs for working class bicyclists, even though, as Andy points out, accidents can be even more devastating for them than they are for other people. Most don’t have health insurance, and many are undocumented immigrants, who fear being deported if they report accidents or go to the hospital (Track 3).
City of Lights started as a small program, with one workshop and then another. With a dedicated Bilingual Bicycle Safety Coordinator, CoL keeps growing. Its next step is to reach out to people in other neighborhoods, kids at high schools, moms and other community members.
Andy graduated from UCLA this past spring with a degree in Sociology and became part of the LACBC staff in September. In his one month with us, he has already been busy mobilizing people, organizing workshops, and preparing for the 2nd Annual City of Lights Awards Dinner on October 26th. Welcome to the staff, Andy!
Many thanks to LACBC volunteers Nina Eliasoph and Matt Theisen for help with this piece.