The residents of El Monte, on
the eastern edge of Los Angeles County,
Calif., have a fantastic
recreational resource in a developing Emerald Necklace of
trails surrounding the city.
When complete, the Emerald Necklace will be a 17-mile loop
of parks and greenways connecting 10 cities and nearly 500,000 residents in a
dense urban environment, providing a desperately needed facility for
communities suffering from high rates of obesity, asthma and a lack of recreational
Already, residents of all ages have been making the most of
the completed sections.
The Kids Campus Youth Center in El Monte this year decided to
make the trail a focus of their summer program, with their first ever Bike
Camp. With a grant from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and
the Coca-Cola Foundation, the center was able to buy 20 new Fuji Bikes to allow the
kids to get out and about on the Emerald Necklace trails.
Bike Camp opened with a bike safety clinic hosted by a certified
instructor to make sure everyone knew how to stay safe on two wheels.
"Pretty soon, the Bike Camp members were telling staff when
we weren't following the rules," says Steve Schweigerdt, manager of trail development for RTC's Western Regional Office. "It was great to see them setting such strong
The camp members set out for Santa Fe Dam recreation area
and Whittier Narrows on most of their rides, but they were
soon eager to explore farther afield. Keen for some new biking challenges,
the group was able to organize some more intense mountain bike rides with
rangers in the Santa Monica
"Now, when the youth center needs to run errands down the
street, the kids are asking, 'Can we take the bikes?'" says Schweigerdt. "It is terrific
to see that progression, from riding for recreation to using a bike for other
Like many urban areas around Los Angeles, however, the streets are often not
safe for riding. So Schweigerdt and RTC will be working with the bike club to
start advocating for the city of El
Monte to write a bike plan, and to create safe bike
routes to access nearby trails from the youth center.
Photos courtesy of Kids Campus Youth Center.
They had a great time this weekend at CicLAvia too! Way to get out there Kids Campus!
Dude, that is awesome!!!
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