One of the things that made yesterday's Ride and Stride event so interesting was the incredible diversity of the participants—young and old, walkers and bikers, men and women, families and friends, humans and animals. You name it, we saw it.
For more than four hours today, several miles of Downey streets, roughly between downtown Downey and the Columbia Memorial Space Center, were closed to cars for the first Downey Ride and Stride event. Instead of car traffic, the roads were wide open for walkers, bikers, skateboarders, and any other mode of transportation that didn't involve a motor. Along the way, there were games, music, and plenty of food.
The freedom to walk down the middle of the street, without concern for cars, was surprisingly liberating. We walked probably half the 5.5 mile path that was available before turning around and walking back. (Shuttles were available in case you wanted to walk the entire distance and then get a ride back to your car.) This event was very different from most Downey street events, which are typically confined to a small area. This was an opportunity to walk the city, and it was a lot of fun.
Ride and Stride is one of eight events funded through the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Open Streets Grant Program, which seek to encourage walking, biking, and public transportation.
I saw this crew out last week and remembered thinking how scary it would be to have to work so high up—really far from the ground. I don't know if they were installing lines or doing repairs, but I'm thankful someone else does it for me. On a whim, I looked up what they are paid. The median average wage was a little over $61,000 per year. Between you and me....I don't think they are paid enough.
At DDP, we rarely get tired of looking at railroad tracks. So I'm back again, to this section of track that goes through the back side of a commercial area in Downey. A single boxcar sits on a siding behind Leach Grain & Milling, started by Willis Leach in 1934.
The tracks soon disappear into the distance, but they don't turn. They continue on in a perfectly straight line for about 10 miles, where they make a slight curve before continuing straight again. In an area where very few streets run straight for more than a mile or so, this was a reminder to me that the railroads have been here a lot longer than many of our towns and certainly longer than our freeways. The original tracks were laid when there were few barriers to straight lines.
"My husband and I met in Guadalajara, Mexico, when I was 8 years old. He was my neighbor. He is a musician, he plays the piano and writes music. Some for me.
"My greatest joy is when I had my daughter. She is my only daughter. I spend much of my time with her. We go to plays at school, spend time in the park, and go on field trips. These will stay with her all her life.
"The thing I miss the most is my family in Mexico. I've lived here for three years and I miss them. But I love it here. This salon is my passion. I thought, 'Downey needs a blowout and a makeup bar, right here in town.' So I opened Vanity Blowout and Makeup Bar."
"The joy that I have experienced is from the uniting of my family and their love and respect. When I came to believe that and feel that was at the age of 25. I felt it when I was a kid but I was introduced to it later in a more passionate and respectful way. The greatest model I have that introduced me to that is my mother. That has been my greatest joy. My family and friends have helped me to understand the meaning of that joy.
"I miss the passion of helping others though. I think I went to an extreme in my helping others and I needed to find a balance in my life of caring for myself and others."
It's not exactly what comes to mind when you hear the phrase "freeway close." But, it did make me realize that housing in our area has pretty much been pushed to the limits. And, the 5 and the 605 freeways are among the most congested in the nation, according to a study released by the Texas Transportation Institute. Read today's edition of the Downey Beat for more details. So, even though we live close to multiple freeways in Downey, it provides no guarantee that our commute will be better.