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Good Sam’s 2018 Blessing of the Bicycles Honors and Humanizes Cyclists

Sister Yolanda Vega praying for safe bicycling at this morning’s Blessing of the Bicycles event. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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Good Samaritan Hospital hosted its annual Blessing of the Bicycles event this morning. A crowd of about 150 attended to honor bicyclist leadership, to pray for cyclist safety, and to remember riders who have been killed or injured.

The ceremonies were hosted by Good Samaritan Hospital's cyclist CEO Andy Leeka, alongside young Rowena Avenue safety champion Matlock Grossman. Former L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge put in a cameo too.

Each year I have attended, I have felt touched by speakers at the Blessing of the Bicycles. As a cyclist navigating L.A. streets, I often feel that my presence is at best an afterthought for L.A. leaders. At worst, I am a nuisance blocking drivers' supposedly inalienable right to speed to the next traffic signal. At the annual Blessing event, I feel that I am noticed, held, honored and respected - by a diverse group of religious leaders who have given me some thought and are speaking up for my health, safety and humanity. It makes me feel good.

This year's Blessing featured invocations from a diverse group of clerics across many traditions, speaking in Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and English.

For me this morning, the most touching story came from the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition's Executive Director Erik Jansen. Jansen mused on the biblical story of the good Samaritan - a parable told by Jesus in response to the question of just who is that "neighbor" in Jesus' command to "love thy neighbor." The Samaritan story takes place on the road, where a traveler has been injured. After several people pass by the injured traveler, he is helped by a man who would normally be his enemy. Jansen told the story as a call for empathy on today's roads.

Metro representatives accepting the Golden Spoke Award. Left to right: xxx
Metro representatives accepting the Golden Spoke Award. Left to right: Good Samaritan CEO Andy Leeka, Metro Planning Director Dolores Roybal-Saltarelli, Metro Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins, cyclist Matlock Grossman, and Metro Communications Manager Dave Sotero.
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Each year at the event, Good Samaritan Hosptial gives the Golden Spoke Award to leaders in the bicycling community. This year's Golden Spoke honoree was Metro. Leeka recounted Metro's work toward making the region better for cyclists, including the Rail2River multi-use path, Metro Bike Share, and, coming soon, extending the L.A. River bike path (which is funded, due in about a decade, and moving forward with a design/engineering contract slated to be approved at a Metro board committee meeting tomorrow.)

LACBC Executive Director Erik Jansen speaking on the meaning of the Good Samaritan
LACBC Executive Director Erik Jansen speaking on the meaning of the Good Samaritan
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The event ended with cyclists receiving their ceremonial splash of holy water before a lap around Good Samaritan Hospital.

Good Samaritan Hospital's xxxx splashes holy water on cyclists
Good Samaritan Hospital's Reverend Michael Bell splashes holy water on cyclists
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Young tricyclists ready to blessed
Young tricyclists ready to blessed
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Rabbi Rami Sadeghi speaking at this morning's Blessing of the Bicycles. Left to right are: Andy Leeka, Matlock Grossman, Reverend Michael Bell, Rabbi Sadeghi, Sister Yolanda Vega, Reverend Yein Esther Kim, and Reverend Ryuzen Hayashi
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