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5 ways riding the bus has positively impacted my life

metrorapid

metrorapidI recently discovered leaving my car at home and taking the bus to work is a great alternative to driving. Overall, my experience riding the bus has been convenient and worry-free. Taking the Red Line 734 to work has made a positive impact in my life in five unique ways:

  1. Money Saved
  2. Let me be perfectly clear, I did not save enough money to buy a new Porsche. However, the savings from taking the bus did have a real impact on my budget. The money that I saved was substantial. By trimming down my gas bill I can now skip the pizza and enjoy some fresh cooked salmon for dinner every now and then.

  1. Clear Conscience
  2. One day as I sat on the bus I looked out the window to see so many people riding solo in their cars. Just a few weeks ago that was me driving alone to work. Trust me, I’m not saying I don’t miss my car because that would be a lie. However, I do enjoy having a clear conscience and knowing that by taking public transit that I am actually reducing emissions and helping to keep the environment clean.

  1. Making New Friends
  2. To my surprise, I have met new and interesting people since making the move to public transit. Recently, I found myself sitting next to an avid fan of the Boston Celtics. This could have been a very long bus ride given that I bleed “Purple & Gold” for the Los Angeles Lakers. For the entire ride we debated which franchise is the greatest and who was a better player Magic or Bird. Now as it turns out, I look forward to seeing my disillusioned friend from Boston so we can continue our heated debate. Go Lakers!

  1. Daily “Me” Time
  2. I’ve discovered that riding on the bus allows me to catch up on all of my novelty reading and research. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make tamales but could never find the time. After reading several recipes and articles I’ve learned the process is tedious and time consuming. Consequently, I will continue to buy my tamales at the local market and leave the real cooking up to the professionals.

  1. Daily Exercise
  2. Every day I walk approximately a quarter mile to the bus stop. No, it’s not quite as long as running a marathon but I’m still burning calories by walking in each direction. Sometimes I even increase my walking pace just to ensure that I’m burning enough calories to enjoy a donut when I get to the office. Correction, maybe two or three donuts!

Bikes 4 Orphans 2nd annual bike-a-thon & hike-a-thon

Bike-A-ThonBlog

Bike-A-ThonBlogOn Saturday, Feb. 28, Bikes 4 Orphans will be hosting its 2nd annual Bike-A-Thon | Hike-A-Thon. The family and pet friendly event will take place at the Glendale Sports Complex from 9 am to 12 pm. Hike or bike at the event and enjoy live music, food and raffle prizes with 100% of the proceeds going to the organization. Learn more about Bikes 4 Orphans from President Shwant Bazikian:


Bike-A-ThonWhat was the inspiration behind Bikes 4 Orphans? 

My brother Sebouh, a freshman at UCLA and avid cyclist, learned about the Machao orphanage in Kenya, where the children walked 2 hours a day barefoot to get to school! He thought bikes would be a simple solution to decrease their commute times. Initially, it was supposed to be only a few bikes but it began to blossom into something much greater.

What is the mission/objective of Bikes 4 Orphans?
Our mission is to provide bikes to as many children in orphanages as possible. Primarily to those who have to walk multiple hours to get to school.

How does having a bike impact the lives of these children?
It’s a truly tremendous impact! Bicycles allow them to get to school faster and safer. Also, bikes encourage them to finish their education quicker because the commute to and from school is easier and more fun. Some use the bike to carry water and goods to and from their orphanage or to find a job, there is no limit to how they can better their lives with something as simple as a bicycle.

Have the children in these orphanages changed your point of view on life in any way?
Yes, of course. It has showed me that these children are full of potential but lack the resources to reach it. We saw firsthand at the Armenia delivery how these children were able to assemble a bike without having seen one. It is truly amazing what these children are capable of with even just the smallest amount of guidance. I like to say that, “Every orphan (human) has an innate ambition to become something better, and bicycles unlock that potential”.

What has surprised you the most since you started Bikes 4 Orphans? 
The thing that has surprised us the most is how generous people can be. For example, we had a 10 year old donate his brand new bike when he heard about our project as well as a teenage girl donate all her birthday money because she wanted to help others. Everyone in the world wants to help, its human nature, they are just waiting for a cause that will inspire them.

What are some of the obstacles that prevent you from providing bikes to the children? 
One obstacle is determining the legitimacy of an orphanage. We need to validate each orphanage and make sure they are government recognized and official orphanages. Also, as of now we can’t deliver the bikes everywhere due to high transportation and delivery costs. We work with organizations like the World Bicycle Relief and Qhebeka because their prices are the most affordable but the down side is that they only deliver to certain countries. As we move forward, we are looking to expand our connections and reach orphanages in other countries.

What countries have you serviced so far?
We have helped 5 orphanages in 3 countries, Kenya, South Africa and Armenia. We are in the final steps to delivering 25 bikes to Ethiopia and 15 to another orphanage in South Africa.

Ideally, how many bikes would you like to provide this year? 
We are currently trying to raise an additional $10,000 by July of this year. The money will help provide 70 bikes to those in need.

UCLA wins “Tackle Hunger” challenge against USC!

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This year, UCLA and USC joined forces in a friendly food drive competition to raise funds for the LA Regional Food Bank. The 2014 UCLA Food Drive: “Yes, we can Tackle Hunger” benefits the LA Regional Food Bank and the UCLA Food Closet, an on-campus resource that provides food and basic necessities to UCLA students in need.

The rivalry was at an all-time high as the Bruins and Trojans battled on the field in the big UCLA vs. USC football game at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Nov. 22. During the game, fans had an opportunity to donate funds via text message to support their respective schools.

Bruin fans rallied at the game and contributed a total of $1300 to win the 2014 Tackle Hunger Challenge against USC. In addition, members of the UCLA community have also donated $840 online in the virtual fund drive so far and roughly 3.5 bins of canned goods.

The annual UCLA Food Drive is running now through Friday, Dec. 12. To contribute, please click here.

Go Bruins!

 

Photos courtesy of LA Regional Food Bank.

Bike Essentials: Vinny Bui

VinnyBui_bikeessentials

VinnyBui_bikeessentialsVinny Bui is a former UCLA Bike Shop employee and UCLA alumni. He graduated last spring with a Bachelors in Anthropology and is currently taking a year off to travel. In addition to cycling, his hobbies include: live music, food, craft beer and tennis. Below, he shares a little information about his bikes and the gear he carries with him.

I have three bikes:
- one single speed fixed gear
- one Cinelli Mash track bike
- and a BMC SL01 Road Racer (pictured above).

My essentials include my helmet, shoes, multi-tool, spare tube(s), tire lever, water bottle(s), and my Garmin.

For me, it's important to have the necessary equipment and tools when I ride. If something goes wrong, I want to be able to do my own repairs right on the spot.

My BMC SL01 Road Racer was my first bicycle with gears! I acquired it in 2008, and with it, I have gained a new perspective on the Los Angeles scenery. Before moving to LA, I thought that it would be difficult to navigate as a bike enthusiast. I couldn't have been more wrong... After joining a cycling team, I realized there is a lot more to LA's commuting than rush hour traffic.

UCLA Dismount Zone Enforcement

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UCLA Police recently began ramping up enforcement in designated campus dismount zones, giving out $202 tickets to people riding their bicycles, scooters and skateboards in prime pedestrian areas. Initiated five years ago, the Dismount Zone policy aims to make the campus safer for pedestrians. While some individuals agree this enforcement action is necessary, others disagree, questioning the need to walk one’s wheels in areas packed with pedestrians.

The UCLA Dismount Zone was adopted in 2009 to ensure the safety of all persons in Bruin Plaza and along Bruin Walk. While the Dismount Zone might be an inconvenience to some cyclists and skateboarders, it is a necessary action given the density in that area of campus. A number of people have suggested designing bike lanes along Bruin Walk; unfortunately, given the limited amount of space, bike lanes cannot be implemented in any safe manner.

The UCLA campus is constantly working to improve conditions for cyclists where possible. As an example, UCLA removed a motor-vehicle lane along Strathmore in order to accommodate a bike lane and a bike box. In addition, UCLA also installed a contra-flow bike lane along De Neve. Lastly, there are also bikeway improvements in the works for Charles E. Young Drive South, and Charles E. Young Drive North.

We appreciate your feedback, and continue to welcome suggestions for improving cycling conditions on campus. To help improve cycling conditions immediately off-campus along Westwood Blvd., consider supporting the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s (LACBC) Westwood Campaign.